This summer we've been able to tell you about several new businesses opening in downtown Abilene. We wanted to know if this surge of new business is a sign of a major downtown revitalization.
Just off the corner of North 2nd and Pine there's artwork being done at a new restaurant and bar. Off of Walnut; the new Casa Authentique. An expansion of the old Village Boutique, the historic site that used to be the home of Jordan Taylor & Co. now includes women's clothing, accessories, home accents and furniture. On Pine street, a new pub that will offer a lively day and night time atmosphere.
Opening within months of eachother, could these new spots help wake up downtown? The owners of the new Abi-Haus hope so. "We're really passionate about Abilene, that's why we came up with the slogan "Long Live Abilene" - we've seen "Keep Abilene Boring" shirts downtown, and it doesn't need to be like that," said Ryan Feerer, co-owner of Abi-Haus. He and fellow co-owner, James Jackson, coined "Long Live Abilene" slogan in an effort to grow city pride and excitement. "We're hoping to get a movement back to downtown and make it less of a destination and more of a place people want to come and enjoy their weekends, or enjoy their nights," said Jackson.
Yanell Rieder is a long time Abilene business owner. This summer she chose to move - and significantly grow - her store, calling it Casa Authentique. She's also launching a website for all downtown businesses to use for promotion and advertisement. "We want everybody to come downtown. Abilene is very fortunate, we have a great shopping area, restaurants, so we want it to be a destination," said Rieder.
So, will it work? Can these new downtown faces get more folks spending money and time in the heart of our city? Bird Thomas is Vice President of the Abilene Downtown Association. She's thrilled about the new neighbors, and hopes they'll help folks realize how much downtown Abilene has changed. "I think we just reference frequently what it was like in the 80's; dowtown was pathetic. It's now 2012, and now it's really phenominal, but a lot of people quit looking in the 80's," said Thomas.
Just like anything else, Thomas points out, Abilene can be slow to change. But in that time she says downtown has changed at just the right pace to support a healthy rebirth. "We've got everything in place to make an extremely successful downtown, all we need now is a little bit of time and patience and awareness," said Thomas.
The new Casa Authentique is now open downtown. Abi-Haus restaurant and bar, and the new Fat Boss pub are scheduled to open this fall.