Merchants by Downtown Uplift project celebrate new cafe, and arrival of spring

Pedestrians walk past the Downtown Uplift project in the 300 block of Main Street. On the other side of the street is the new restaurant Dream Cafe, which is drawing people to the area.

One of the best things to happen this winter on the west end of Main Street was the opening of Dream Cafe.

The new breakfast and lunch restaurant at 314 Main St. attracted more people to downtown as temperatures warmed and the sun peeked out, said Karen Hildebrandt, owner of Unique Expressions, 336 Main St.

“This has been a great week,” Hildebrandt said. “I’m optimistic that it will continue.”

The businesses on the west end of downtown’s serpentine street have, like other businesses, struggled against the economic slowdown and a long, cold winter. They also have had to deal with construction work, part of the Downtown Uplift project, on Main Street.

Both sides of the street are fenced off, closing off the view, merchants said, and making it difficult for some shoppers to walk to the shops they want to visit.

Still, said Scott Howard, a co-owner of Dream Cafe as well as the Rockslide, 405 Main St., “We’re doing great better than expected.”

The Rockslide, though, was seeing a slowdown, possibly as a result of the weather, the opening of Hooters on North Avenue, and the economy in general.

On the other hand, Main Street is gaining a reputation, Howard said.

“I think downtown is getting to be more and more the entertainment hub of Grand Junction,” Howard said.

The new restaurant was a boon to Girlfriends, 316 Main St., said owner Jennie Mason, who bought the store Feb. 1 after working there for 16 years.

“It’s great. I have no complaints,” Mason said, adding she detected a slight increase in business at the shop, which sells home decor, bath and body products and clothing.

“A good, positive attitude helps, too,” she said.

Hoping to help business along, Patti Kurtzman at Frame Works & Gallery, 309 Main St., made the store’s three parking spaces behind the business available to customers.

“We’re plugging away,” Kurtzman said.

The business placed a camera to monitor the construction project in a time-lapse mode, shooting every day from 8 a.m., to 4 p.m.

“It’s kind of fun to watch,” she said.

Downtown merchants depend on the ability to catch shoppers’ eyes from across the street, something that’s impossible with the construction fencing, merchants said.

The construction crew “has been lovely, so accommodating,” Hildebrandt said. “They open the crosswalk every night to Wells Fargo,” giving easier access to either side of the street to pedestrians without crossing Fourth Street. “I’m very appreciative of them.”


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