“I have written summer right off and am going right into the holidays,” said Rob Sevigny, owner of The Paper Patch, the oldest business on Exchange Street in the Old Port. “Business is down because people can’t access Exchange Street because no parking is allowed here, he said this afternoon. Sevigny is actively reducing his inventory.
Although restaurants are now serving outdoors, that accommodation does not work for businesses who cannot display their product on the street for obvious reasons. Fine jewelry, fine gifts, souvenirs, clothing, leather products and paper products aren’t conducive to sales on the streets – although some like Sherman’s Books – are selling on the Street in order to survive the Exchange Street vehicular closure ordered by the Portland City Council.
Two other Portland peninsula bookstores – Longfellow Books and Print have not re-opened yet for reasons known only to them.
“This reminds me of New Orleans with the cobblestone streets without the smell of urine and the lack of crime. We did see some drunks last night near here that reminded me of home,” said Angell Donley this afternoon. Donley, visiting with her family, said the New Orleans bars did open three weeks ago. Since that time the number of COVID-19 patients have spiked dramatically. A Trump supporter who will vote for him again in November. Donley said her “401K is doing great.”
Wharf Street in the Old Port is known as a party Street. It is lined with bars with nearby fine restaurants and a coffee shop topping the best Portland has to offer in the hospitality industry. On Friday night, multiple calls to the city complaining about the lack of social distancing in a packed crowd that defied guidelines, caught the attention of city officials. That appearance of a lack of compliance sparked a press release warning Wharf Street businesses to comply with guidelines or risk being shutdown and taking others on Wharf Street with them.
It was generally agreed by Wharf Street businesses that three bars : Oasis, BonFire and the Drink Exchange are the culprits in the poor behavior of its patrons. It was the consensus of business owners that these three bars need to work very hard to comply with guidelines to secure the safety of its patrons.
Restaurant workers who witnessed last night’s partying on Wharf Street said it was less offensive than on Friday night, but left lots of space for improvement. Code enforcement officers made their presence known around 10:30 pm with police officers arriving around 11:30 pm. The Portland Police Department has issued a report this evening. concluding that no violations were found after checking with businesses in the Old Port and elsewhere.
“We the people on Wharf Street who are not bars are hoping they will take more responsibility and follow the city’s guidelines. There are a majority of Wharf Street businesses trying to make sure their patrons are safe,” said Tessa Storey, general manager of Higher Grounds, a three year old coffee shop, at 45 Wharf Street. “This has always been a party street in the Old Port, but now it’s much more than that,” she said.
Has Councilor Justin Costa, chair of the city’s Economic Development Committee, been in communication with any of the businesses on Exchange Street to see if the shutdown of vehicular traffic is working for them? Who has he been in communication with? What is the feedback the Councilor is receiving from businesses, other than restaurants or “eateries”, he’s received so far? Was this decision to shutdown certain streets in the Old Port a good one; any regrets about the decision? (MHN.com has tried to reach Councilor Costa by telephone several times, but his mailbox is full and not accepting any more calls).