We humans are funny sometimes. When we live in a city, we tend to think of it as a stable, almost static place, where nothing much changes from year to year. When we do notice a change, we tend to be so surprised, never quite grasping that change is inevitable and even desirable.

A thriving city is an evolving, ever-changing kaleidoscope of colors and tastes, odors and sights. This is life in the city of Frederick.

Restaurants open, close and change hands. Craft breweries are the hot trend, and then craft distilleries are an even hotter trend.

In just the past few months, we have seen several instances of this continuous change. The popular Ragin’ Reef seafood restaurant on East Church Street has reopened after an extended closing. The eatery was damaged by an electrical fire but has been rebuilt and expanded, to the relief of its larger clientele.

On the other side of town, on West Patrick Street, the owners of the venerable China Garden are vowing to reopen after their restaurant was hit by another fire last month. The Chiang family, which has run China Garden since the 1980s, promise to rebuild as soon as possible.

On the near north side of town, the Huynh family recently announced that it has sold the Lucky Corner Vietnamese restaurant at Seventh and Market streets. The family will keep the second location of Lucky Corner at the Westview Promenade on Md. 85.

The original Lucky Corner was opened in 2005, and has been a popular spot for lunch and dinner ever since.

The new owners are a husband-and-wife team, Nikki and Eyi Jin Song, who are continuing to offer many favorite dishes from the old regime. But soon they will be changing the name and mixing in some traditional Korean fare as well.

Downtown on Carroll Creek Park, a new Mexican place is packing in diners at the outdoor tables along the creekside walkway. Roro’s Mexican Grill opened in January but has really taken off with the milder spring weather.

Speaking of Carroll Creek, Idiom Brewing Co. has opened in the historic Union Mills Building, to rave reviews. It joins its neighbor, McClintock Distilling Co., which has been open for about two years in another historic building along the creek.

Tenth Ward Distilling Co. has expanded from its original location on East Church (right next to the Ragin’ Reef restaurant mentioned above) to a storefront at 55 E. Patrick St., in the heart of the historic district. That’s another place to make a stop for a taste of local spirits.

The dining (and drinking) district on North East Street is also thriving, building around Bryan Voltaggio’s very successful Family Meal. Oscar’s Alehouse, a mainstay of Eldersburg in Carroll County, is building a big following in the neighboring shopping center, and not one but two breweries are drawing crowds, Midnight Run Brewing and Rockwell Brewery. Cafe Bueno, an excellent, unpretentious Mexican restaurant, is across the street in a small shopping center.

If you think you might like to live downtown, you might want to get on the waiting list for the Kemp Hall Lofts & Studios in a wonderful old building at Church and Market streets. All 18 units have already been rented, but they will take your name. The units have soaring ceilings, original wood floors and towering windows overlooking downtown.

Little wonder then that most owners of downtown businesses told the Downtown Frederick Partnership’s seventh annual Business Performance Survey that they had a positive economic outlook for 2019, and 38 percent said they plan to increase staff.

The city and the business community always need to be vigilant about the economic health of the downtown area, and everything is far from perfect. We still battle against blighted buildings, and we still must push to get the state to join with us to bring the downtown hotel to reality.

But things are going well in Frederick as we evolve and change. It is a process to make a successful city, not an event.

Follow Allen Etzler on Twitter: @AllenWEtzler

(42) comments

Tanstaafl

Once upon a time, merit was valued in American education. Teachers were very valued everywhere. I graduated in 1966, when we went to the moon, researched medical problems, valued opportunities for all. American ed is now dumbed down, teachers are ridiculed as voracious money hungry incompetents. America is so dumbed down recovery is failure. Our children cannot think, problem-solve.. We have to go to Russia to enter space. Sciences, tech or medical is laughed at by other first world countries. Financial control of American public endeavors for quick profits will only get much worse.

gary4books

The VA hotel may do the job. It seems away from the visitors. To be honest, I am not downtown often enough to know.

gabrielshorn2013

The VA hotel will be off Church street, right in the heart of "downtown", and about a block or so from Volt restaurant. Not away at all.

gary4books

THANKS!

KellyAlzan

As soon as I saw the title of the editorial, I said to myself “is this about that stupid hotel?” I read the first 4 words and was like “ok, just go to the comments and see what they’re commenting”. And sure enough, that stupid hotel.

gabrielshorn2013

Ahhh... I see the FNPs "new owner" is shilling for his cousins tale Randall's on this boondoggle. There will be no state money for your white elephant. Either find a developer with resources and funding, pony up your own cash, or drop it. If it were financially viable, it would be done already. It isn't.

DickD

[thumbup][thumbup]

KellyAlzan

Nothing like an out of town’er playing editor for a small local newspaper! LOL

bicep42

Why hasn’t the city of Frederick been able to find a financially qualified investor for this fantastic “opportunity “? Any savvy businessman or woman would surely jump at the chance to put his or her own money into such a project. Why is corporate welfare necessary? Why has there been so much controversy surrounding this stalled “luxury hotel and conference center “?

gary4books

The downtown area is on a "come back" trend, but investments are not certain money makers. The city can step in (with the state) and get a hotel started and make the money back in increased taxes from the hotel and other local businesses that gain business. It is a win win. However, some have paid lobbyist in Annapolis and other locations to claim that no public money should ever support a local business. Why not? They pay taxes. Spend the money as a courtesy to our visitors. Do the right thing.

gabrielshorn2013

The only thing we owe those downtown businesses Gary, is our patronage if we like and want their goods and services.

Dwasserba

[thumbup]gabriel

gary4books

Harsh.

gabrielshorn2013

Not harsh at all Gary...it's reality in business. Do I owe Wegmans my business? How about Sears? Home Depot? Why or why not? The reason those businesses chose their locations was the expected foot/vehicle traffic. Their business model planned for X number of customers based on the number of people passing by. If X number of people don't pass by and into their store, should we make a certain percentage do so, in order to "support them?" Oh heck no. If the traffic doesn't supply enough customers that like, want, and can afford their goods or services, they either need to change their business model by moving to a location that does, or go out of business. Not a hard concept really. Any adept business owner knows this.

DickD

[thumbup]

gary4books

MD1776. This is my answer. While not a certain investment, support for getting a Holte started will benefit local businesses, be a courtesy to our visitors, clean up a part of the Carroll creek walk, and may make lots of money for the City. As a city resident and a taxpayer, I like those odds.

gary4books

And I spelled "Hotel" the wrong way. Sigh.

MD1756

I understand your position, but you have more faith in the projected benefits than I do. I can't recall the last public/private partnership that delivered what was promised to be the benefits. As I point out Burgess' numbers seem to be unrealistic. I think governments should focus more on underfunded core responsibilities. Yes if the city had more money than they knew what to do with then maybe, but ultimately I think public/private investments are bad for the tax payer because the private part will take their profits whereas government should not be in the business of making profits but providing needed services/infrastructure.

KellyAlzan

Gary, I could used a new piece of equipment. Costs around $65k. The state and county owe it to me to give me the money to get it.

gary4books

OK. How much will it do for Frederick? Visitors? Downtown shops? I suspect that your request has only your own interest to suport. Do you say the same of me? This just confused me. I once saw you as a fiscal conservative. Now? You tell me.

DickD

Well, I would like to sell my house and buy a McMansion, how about subsiding me, Gary?

gary4books

Dick D - Good for you. perhaps someone will give it to you. I would ask Kelly. But I do not know how much you are willing to pay in taxes. And wither you are a champion at house cleaning or that will be another expense. Not to mention having people in your house for so many hours. Goodby privacy.

petersamuel

You write: "...we still must push to get the state to join with us to bring the downtown hotel to reality." My understanding is that a recent meeting of the 'hotel team' concluded that no state funds are likely to be forthcoming, and that they need to work out whether or how the project can proceed without state money. Meanwhile, four or five other hotels are a-building based entirely on, gasp, investor funds. City-sponsorship and taxpayer subsidies are not only wasteful, unfair and corruption-inducing but ensure that year after year after year nothing actually gets built.

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

gary4books

It has become a partisan issue with Republicans on one side and Democrats on the other and little real logic is in the mix. The money is small compared to the other projects that benefit hotels on Byte drive and south on 85.

gabrielshorn2013

You keep confusing the projects Gary. The overpass on 15 is a part of a bypass to alleviate traffic. It was also a part of eliminating the deathtrap at Hayward Ave. The hotel that will be sited in that area saw the plans and thought it would be a good business opportunity, and got their own financial backing. The hotels south on 85 are not taking advantage of the overpass construction, as they are already there. The construction is again to alleviate the traffic choke points on both 85 and 270. Roads ARE a proper use of taxpayer funding. On the other hand, the handout that the hotel is looking for is to benefit the hotel alone. The undersized parking deck will be full if the hotel is 50% occupied! How does that benefit the people staying there, let alone the residents? Furthermore, the undersized parking deck is actually the foundation of the proposed hotel. Building hotel basements is not a proper use of taxpayer funds. No deck, no foundation, no hotel. Maybe the businesses that think they'll derive a benefit should pony up their money, and not bilk state taxpayers, who will never realize a benefit. BTW, not a lobbyist, just a FredCo taxpayer that has written the Governor, opposing this boondoggle. It has nothing to do with R or D. There are actually lots of Ds that oppose this project, especially those outside the city who see that their money is best spent elsewhere, like schools and roads.

gary4books

"Especially those outside the city.." and that is why we need to be able to promote things for the city if we live in the city and care about local businesses. I do not get any money from Cohen. Or any other source.

gabrielshorn2013

Who is Cohen, Gary? If the city residents want this boondoggle, then fine, use city taxpayer funds. You could also pool your funds and take the risk yourselves as investors. Leave the county and state taxpayers out of it. There are higher priority projects that are desperately needed without being bilked for this boondoggle.

gabrielshorn2013

BTW, won't the privately funded Visitation Academy hotel suffice for those few people that you claim would stay downtown if they overate or overdrank? If no, why not?

MD1756

Good luck getting an answer on that other than we should provide a courtesy to visitor. That over providing core services to residents.

gary4books

It gets enough support from the City with tax breaks and such.

gabrielshorn2013

Didn't answer the question Gary. Why will the Visitation Academy hotel not suffice for the people that you say will want to stay over because they overate or overdrank? That is why you say it is needed, right? If it will handle that clientele, why do we need another? Hint...we don't.

MD1756

It is an issue about how tax money should be spent. Should limited tax dollars be spent on risky investments with a return above average market rates not guaranteed (which is not a corp government function) or spend it on any number of corp government functions that are currently underfunded. I choose the latter (I'm a registered democrat). Invest your own money if you think it's a good investment but let the tax dollars go to core governmental functions (even education though I have no children).

gary4books

I pay taxes and live in the city and should have a voice to promote spending that I like without investing my own money. Most places allow that.

MD1756

Gary, other than saying it is a courtesy for visitors, you've never responded to the question about the value of the investment and whether or not the city would get more from a new hotel or investing its revenue elsewhere, or even better yet, more fully fund critical core government functions that remain underfunded. If investing public money in a hotel would clearly generate more revenue to then fund more critical infrastructure, then that investment would make sense. Otherwise you are promoting wasting tax dollars for something you believe is nice, but is not core governmental function nor critical infrastructure. So are you saying you want to be wasteful with your tax dollars?

KellyAlzan

Gary. I pay taxes too. As does most people and businesses in MD. People in Easton MD have every right to be upset about this

MD1756

I meant core not corp.

DickD

Wish I could agree with you, Gary, but I don't. I don't even understand why you think it is so important, as I don't agree with the reasons you have stated.

DickD

[thumbup][thumbup]

KellyAlzan

It’s highly evident that the Randall’s included a clause in the contract for the sale of the FNP. It’s clear there is a clause that states that the new owner of the FNP must continue to advocate the development of the stupid downtown hotel that the majority doesn’t want

gary4books

A clause that includes the former Mayor, the New Mayor and just about every elected person in the city? And you do not even live in the city and say "I will never see it." Not so clear to me.

gary4books

Piffle.

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