Members of Community Board 5 thought an outdoor cafe in Ridgewood would be a charming addition to the neighborhood at a meeting last month. But one member saw it as a small step in a larger plan to reinvent Myrtle Avenue as a shopping and nightlife destination.
This summer, Joe and John’sPizzeria and Restaurant at 59-10 Myrtle Ave. will have a sidewalk café capable of seating 43 people at 20 tables.
The pizzeria was purchased by Julio Figuero, who hopes his café will take off when the weather warms up.
But Ted Renz, of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, said the outdoor seating is just the beginning.
“In our long-range strategy, we would like to attract more restaurants to create a better ambiance for the district,” Renz said. “It hasn’t been known for nightlife.”
That could change, according to Renz, if other restaurants currently in the area follow the example set by Figuero.
“If he is successful, we’re thinking of maybe sending a memo to see if other restaurants could follow suit,” he said.
One restaurant has already expressed an interest to do so.
Owners of an Italian restaurant called Trattoria Cerbone have inquired about setting up an outdoor café.
But one follower is hardly a trend.
There are major problems standing in the way of making Myrtle Avenue a nightlife and dining destination. For one, there is a serious lack of restaurants.
“There is plenty of shopping. It is a major commercial strip. But the one thing that is lacking is restaurants,” Renz said. “The avenue shuts down after hours, and we’re trying to change that image.”
Potential new businesses are not suffering for lack of space, Renz said. Plenty of vacancies dot storefronts on either side of the street.
But he said that the BID knows opening a restaurant is often a risky endeavor.
That is why it has undertaken other improvement projects to make the area more enticing overall.
Last summer, the BID secured funds from the city to install new benches and put up signs pointing toward historical areas of the neighborhood like the Ridgewood Bank building, RKO theater and Clemens Triangle Monument.
This summer, Renz said he hopes to widen tree pits along the sidewalks.
In addition, he wants to encourage businesses to do away with roll-down metal doors that give the avenue an unwelcome feel at night.
“We want a more open atmosphere on the avenue. It would create window shopping,” he said. “Now you can’t see which products the stores offer.”
Gary Giordano said that more restaurants on the avenue would help the entire community.
“I think that Myrtle Avenue could certainly benefit from nightlife provided that nightlife is respectful,” he said. “Some of the community stores might stay open later and could bring people to shop in the area.”
Giordano also said that increased nightlife might even deter crime.
“Without it getting unreasonable, Myrtle Avenue could bring us lot of benefits,” he said.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2011 Community News Group
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