Does downtown conversation need to change in the New Year?
By Marissa Amoni
I attended a New Year’s Eve party last night, and someone asked me if I ever tire of people asking me when downtown Aurora will improve. I responded that I never get tired of talking about how to better downtown, and that when people ask how they can help downtown to be more vibrant and active, then I tell them to support the businesses that are already there.
When I left the conversation, I thought of how most conversations about downtown go a different route; they are full of downtown praise and positivity. A conversation just a few minutes before with a downtown business owner had us excited about the year ahead. A fresh year with lots of possibility and some great things down the pipeline.
Yes, we could use a few more diverse restaurant choices. Italian, Indian, Vietnamese, and a steakhouse were named as good options by the person at the party. I noted that we have an award-winning steakhouse in the casino.
In 2017, Endiro Coffee opened its doors and added extended hours and an outdoor patio to downtown. This year, Tavern on Broadway and Aurora Botanicals plan to open in March, and the Paramount is looking for a restaurant to join its new School of Performing Arts (SOPA) in the old Waubonsee building on Stolp and Galena. A Victorian tea room should be opening up on LaSalle Street come spring, and the Silverplate building, located at the northeast corner of Downer and Stolp, will soon be renovated as an ice cream shop on the ground floor with a speak easy in the lower level and residences on the top floors.
Other businesses that opened last year included Do or Dye Designs, Your Timeless Treasures, Ivy’s Food Mart, and Pure Skin Solutions.
I’m not tired of talking about downtown. I just think the conversation needs to change. I should be asking people why they don’t come to First Fridays, or why they haven’t tried Endiro Coffee. Then I can learn how to help solve downtown’s problem, and it’s not one of needing more restaurants or parking spaces.
When we change the dialogue and our habits, then we can start adding to our downtown. This year, I challenge us all to have a positive and fruitful conversation about downtown.
When is the last time you’ve taken the kids to a downtown museum? Can local families pledge to eat out once a month or once a week in downtown? Is it time to change your hairdresser or esthetician to one in downtown? What gifts can you purchase in the gift shops at The DLP, SciTech or the Fire Museum? Can you pick up a birthday cake at La Central or La France bakeries? How about getting the friends together for a play at The Riverfront Playhouse?
We have many great things downtown. Let’s make it our goal to support them in the New Year.