The Park Record Editorial, June 2, 2010
Gasp! Something new and different on upper Main Street. What is the world coming to?
Last week, two free-standing decks appeared in the parking spaces in front of Cisero’s restaurant and Bistro 412. The restaurants’ owner hoped to have them open for the holiday weekend but the little rowboat-sized structures sparked a Titanic-sized controversy and are now being held in dry dock until the city can determine whether to applaud or condemn them.
Steve McComb, the owner of Cisero’s and Bistro 412 says he thought he had the city fathers’ blessing to spice up the town’s outdoor dining offerings. City staffers though, say McComb jumped the gun and did not have all of the proper permits in place.
We say, upper Main Street is sometimes over-regulated and the new decks look like fun. They aren’t permanent and given the economic challenges facing local merchants, it is a perfect time to experiment with some new ideas.
Besides, one has to wonder if it is fair to clamp down on upper Main Street while the Park Silly Sunday Market flaunts its freedom every week at the bottom of the street.
Main Street businesses operate under some of the tightest restraints imaginable and their outdoor display limitations are particularly onerous. Those rules were largely enacted during the city’s boom years and were aimed at keeping a tight rein on the district’s historic decorum.
At the time, they served their purpose well, helping to steer a funky old ramshackle Main Street with empty lots and rowdy saloons toward becoming an upscale shopping district with high end restaurants and boutiques. The regulations kept the intense market pressure of the day from turning the street into a neon nightmare.
But ambitious entrepreneurs aren’t exactly lining up to bid on Old Town commercial properties right now. In fact, several significant structures are vacant and the long-time Main Street merchants who were once willing to pay an arm and a leg for street-front spaces and a Main Street-Park City address are now fighting for market share with with new shopping/dining centers at Redstone and New Park.
Drastic times require drastic measures, and while McComb should have taken the time to fill out all of the paperwork, we admire his audacity. Those who know McComb also know that patience is not his strong suit, which may be why he has managed to keep his three restaurants alive (the third is Baja Cantina at the Park City Mountain Resort Plaza).
So here is what we suggest. Fine McComb for proceeding without a building permit and then sign the darn thing ASAP. Next: encourage a flotilla of other Main Street establishments to paddle their own lifeboats out onto the pond and expedite the paperwork so they, too, can take advantage of our fleeting summer season.
Then invite a few friends to join you for a pitcher on one of the city’s festive new dining decks and see how it works.
If, by happy circumstance, the street becomes so busy that the lost parking spaces become a deterrent to business, the city can re-evaluate the experiment. But we’d call that Mission Accomplished.
Park City is considering adding another legacy project that would mark the community’s role in the 2002 Winter Olympics.