Downtown Small Plate Crawl Serves Up Hot Dish

Finally, Historic Downtown Fayetteville is beginning to “get it” when it comes to building excitement and inviting Cumberland County residents and visitors to experience and enjoy the uniqueness of Fayetteville’s downtown community. Build it and they will come. Well, they will also come if you invite them. And, marketing, advertising and promoting Downtown Fayetteville as a fun family destination is the best and most effective way to keep Downtown as a vibrant, must–visit option.

08-27-14-pub-notes.gifThe newly formed Downtown Fayetteville Restaurant Association, in collaboration with the Downtown Alliance and Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, presented a very impressive 4th Friday this past weekend. Yes, there was fun and excitement in the air – mostly from seeing new faces enjoying many new places. This very cool scene made the warm August night stimulating and enjoyable. This was Downtown Fayetteville at its best. There was music, food, fun, art and entertainment. What more could you ask for?

Well, maybe one or two things…

It is puzzling that with so much time, effort and money going into this event, why so many businesses were closed and not participating. Go figure. Hundreds of invited guests walking past your storefront from 5 to 9 p.m. ... and you’re CLOSED! Not necessarily the way to go about promoting and developing a successful business – or showcasing a vibrant downtown. The fact is, there are still too many vacant buildings, empty storefronts and closed businesses that present a telltale contradiction to the vibrant image we want to project.

Also, as it appears now, the Downtown Fayetteville experience is hard to explain or define. The Downtown Alliance and the newly formed Downtown Fayetteville Restaurant Association’s inaugural event, the Small Plate Crawl, added fun and purpose to this 4th Friday experience. However, the overall event seemed to lack an identity or theme. People were wondering … “Is this an arts event? Music event? Food event?” There needs to be a cohesive theme, group, organization or purpose to pull all the venues and elements together to create a definable and marketable Downtown/4th Friday brand.

This would address my third observation – that we are losing our attractive side street venues. Hay Street is getting all the traffic and action while there is little to draw people to the unique shops and businesses along Maxwell, Donaldson and Franklin Streets, where these establishments also have much to contribute.

To me, this last 4th Friday event in Historic Downtown Fayetteville marked a new beginning of creating and branding downtown Fayetteville as a fun family destination where we can consistently and proudly showcase our city, not just on special occasions, but every night of the week. This was an excellent start. Congratulations!

Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

Photo: The Small Plate Crawl added extra fun and excitement to 4th Friday.

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