2015-10-15 / Opinion

Changes in the Wind


Goodbyes may sometimes be happy occasions. More often than not, though, goodbyes are bittersweet, if not flat-out sorrowful events that produce moist-eyed farewells and, if we’re lucky, memories of days gone by.

The end of summer and the advent of autumn have ushered in the first of several changes to Newport’s restaurant scene. Gone already is Yesterday's after nearly 42 years at 28 Washington Square, in the heart of the city’s historic district. New owners of the building reportedly have no plans for another restaurant there. Rather, they hope to use the building for second-floor office space and “high-end” retail at street level. Depending on the season, Yesterday’s probably employed between 50 and 100 people who will now be looking elsewhere for work.

For them, as the days grow shorter and colder here, the task of finding new work becomes more harrowing, at least in the city, with news that Rhumbline, an 80-seat restaurant located since 1995 at 62 Bridge Street, where the Point neighborhood meets downtown, has also closed. The owners of the Midtown Oyster Bar, a relatively new and popular restaurant on lower Thames Street, now own Rhumbline. And here the news is good, as they plan to reopen it. They’re currently seeking a transfer of the old management’s liquor license and they’re also seeking a new entertainment license.

We don’t know exactly what that means. But we wonder how nearby residential neighbors, with all those nicely restored Colonial homes, feel about it. We’ll find out, perhaps, on Nov. 18 when the City Council holds a hearing on the entertainment license application.

Meanwhile, the Canfield House at 5 Memorial Blvd., another longstanding pillar of Newport’s ample restaurant community, has been acquired by the International Tennis Hall of Fame and will, reportedly, be used just for special events. The new owners maintain that the Canfield House building remains in excellent shape and will require little or no rehabilitation. That’s good for them.

But are all these changes good for the city’s roster of fine restaurants? We’ll all find out soon enough.

Finally, the Atlantic Beach Club—which is actually located in Middletown right alongside First Beach and just a chip shot from the Newport city line—will remain open, they say, until the end of the year. After that, ABC owners Peter and Harry Kyriakedes are creating their new “Atlantic Resort” with 141 hotel rooms and other amenities described online as the “next step” in the local hospitality industry.

Talk about history! The Atlantic Beach Club began as a roadside stand in the late 1920s during Prohibition. The stand grew into a larger restaurant that was demolished by Hurricane Carol in 1954. The current owners bought the rebuilt restaurant in 1977.

When things are good we lament their departure. Of course, time marches on and nothing—especially in restaurants—is forever. Times change and we have to change with them. We favor a healthy, robust restaurant scene in Newport, whatever that takes.

At the same time, though, it’s OK to shed a tear for the good old days.

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