After 30 years of being in business on First Street, the City of Sarasota has decided to give our street a facelift.
This long overdue spruce-up will include the replacement of rusting lamp posts, tired landscaping and utilities.
New wider sidewalks will be installed, which will allow for more outside dining space, better traffic calming and stormwater control. When completed, the corridor connecting the Bijou Café to the Ritz-Carlton will be as grand as the Ritz itself.
Of course all of this comes at a price: Customers may choose not to dine with us because of the construction conditions.
An old joke about rural Maine goes “A lost tourist asks an old farmer for directions, to which the laid back ‘Down Easter replied, “Mister, you can’t get there from here.”
What’s not funny is “You can’t get there from here” has become an idiom that’s repeated every time a driver is lost, confused, or detoured by highway construction.
Businesses, like the Bijou Cafe, rely on customers having an unimpeded path to their doors. “You can’t get there from here” can easily become a convenient excuse for diners to take their business elsewhere.
“You can’t get there from here” does not exist in our current state of mind. It has been replaced by a can-do attitude. With a little imagination think of the Pilgrims and other immigrants who crossed treacherous oceans to get here or pioneers who pushed westward across mountains and plains to find new homes in the West. These were not people easily intimidated by challenge; they wouldn’t be intimidated by today’s orange barrels at road construction sites. The barrels would be welcome beacons to safely guide them to their destinations.
To deal with these perceptions, we offer a few tips:
While the street is under construction, there is no on-street parking on First Street. All other parking on nearby streets is unaffected and the Palm Avenue free parking garage is only half a block away.
We have complimentary valet parking for lunch and dinner. If the valet is not posted at the front door, he will be stationed right around the corner on Pineapple Avenue. Look for the bright red umbrella. You will still be only a few steps from our entrance.
We have established a great working relationship with the construction company and the city liaison. They are doing their best to keep the dust, noise and inconvenience down to a minimum. Should you have any concerns about getting here, please let our management know, and we will address them immediately.
We are cooperating with other businesses on our street and will soon be offering fun, value-oriented incentives to keep traffic flowing.
We’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, “Please pardon our dust!”