For much of the last 20, years or more, the Shirley Street business district has often seemed like a forgotten and neglected collection of shops and restaurants that most people drove past on their way to other parts of town.
15 years ago, when business leaders and town officials started talking about wanting to develop a town pier and bring commuter ferry service to the town, as had already happened in places like Hull and Scituate, and even up the North Shore in Salem and Lynn, critics and detractors decried the additional traffic that would wreak havoc on tiny Winthrop streets and opined that then town pier would be an inefficient burden on town resources.
‘Tourists,’ the naysayers affirmed, ‘would never come to Winthrop, from Boston. Why would they?’
Well, the town pier was completed almost five years ago now, and the town has been able to provide seasonal commuter ferry service for the last two years – and the changes that are taking place on Shirley Street – particularly in the Crystal Cove area – are nothing short of remarkable.
“Business owners (along Shirley Street) have stepped it up and it is pretty awesome,” said Winthrop Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Eric Gaynor. “With the ferry returning in the summer and the improvements that businesses in that neighborhood have been making, the Crystal Cove district is hopping right now.”
Here is a short list of the business led improvements to the neighborhood, which have taken place just within the last calendar year:
– The Lucky Garden restaurant on Shirley Street has recently completed a major remodeling and has re-opened as Osaka Lucky Garden, a new dine in restaurant with seating and an expanded Japanese menu that includes sushi.
– The Hi-Tide Restaurant has remodeled and extended its hours to include dinner service.
– The Quick Food Mart convenience store has completed a major renovation and upgrade and is now under new ownership and management, giving the neighborhood a clean, attractive convenient store for residents and visitors.
– A new restaurant, The Rustic Table, has opened in the former site of Gary’s Crystal Cove restaurant.
This list does not even include the other dozen or so projects that preceded them in the Shirley Street neighborhood, or the proposal for a new development on the site of the former Winthrop Temple. Developments such as the Suburban Hotel, which numerous critics suggested would never be successful in Winthrop, the renovation of AmVets Post and the establishment of the Patriot Room and others too numerous to name here.
The vision and promise that was described in numerous public meetings and hearings about the Shirley Street neighborhood, the public landing and the proposed town pier over the last 20 years, are beginning to be realized by the town, and it could not have come at a better time.