2016-01-07 / Opinion

Washington Square Needs Restaurant

To the Editor:

Ever since Yesterday’s restaurant closed in September 2015, Newport’s historic Washington Square has been ominously quiet, especially after 5 p.m. This important historic and cultural area in the downtown desperately needs the pedestrian liveliness, the lights, the delight of people watching people, and the general vibrancy that only another full service restaurant can give, especially one with outdoor tables. Retail in this park-side, sunny location simply will not do. Many of us hope the new owners of the building, Goldstein Associates of Providence, will hold out for the greater good of the town and find their perfect high quality restaurant tenant, despite being legally entitled to do whatever they want with their property, within the city’s codes.

I remember when Biggy Korn, who ran Yesterday’s, couldn’t wait for the city to widen the sidewalks so he could put tables outside. And with the sunny southern exposure, the area did blossom when those tables with brightly colored umbrellas were finally put out. In this sometimes chilly climate, people want the sun. Even in winter, the indoor tables near the window were sunny and pleasant at lunchtime. In the summer, people sat out not only for lunch but all afternoon long, and for dinner and drinks on warm evenings. From this spot, diners could look into the park, admire the historic Colony House and Brick Market, and savor one of the most historic parts of the town. It was perfect for dinner before a movie at the Jane Pickens. When Washington Square’s Opera House reopens, hopefully in December 2017, a restaurant across from it will surely be in demand. And the safety of the area and of the park is increased with more people around.

I wish Goldstein Associates the best of luck in finding their perfect restaurant tenant. The restaurant industry in Newport is tough, but with this great location I think the right restaurant could be popular even in the off seasons. As of this writing, a “For Rent” sign was still in the window. I hope we won’t have to wait for someone else to convert one of the banks or another buildings on that sunny side of Washington Square into a restaurant, so that we can sit down, dine, and enjoy the delights of this special area.

Mary Shepard
Middletown

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