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Duluth embraces nightlife transition

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Shelly Howard, second from left, points something out to her husband, David Cossette, far left, Alan Dickerson, Georgia Cities Foundation community development manager and Chris McGahee, economic development manager for city of Duluth during a meeting at their vacant Duluth store front. Howard and Cossette, the property owners, are transforming the former antiques shop into a pub, "Tavern on Main."

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Shelly Howard, second from left, points something out to her husband, David Cossette, far left, Alan Dickerson, Georgia Cities Foundation community development manager and Chris McGahee, economic development manager for city of Duluth during a meeting at their vacant Duluth store front. Howard and Cossette, the property owners, are transforming the former antiques shop into a pub, "Tavern on Main."

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman David Cossette and his wife Shelly Howard recently closed an antiques and collectibles shop in downtown Duluth to open a pub.

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Property owner David Cossette, right, speaks with Georgia Cities Foundation community development manager Alan Dickerson about the improvements to his future pub.

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman While renovating the old antiques store this week, Tavern on Main co-owner Shelly Howard said workers came across some of the original brickwork behind the wall.

DULUTH -- David Cossette has seen the nighttime crowds file out of Red Clay Theatre.

The local entrepreneur has observed as concertgoers, young and old, exit the local music venue at night only to leave the city in search of the next p.m. adventure.

It makes him wince.

"People walk out. They loaf around outside for a minute and they get in their cars and leave town," Cossette said. "People are taking their money elsewhere."

Cossette and his wife Shelly Howard plan to do something about that.

The couple recently closed an antiques and collectibles shop downtown for renovations. They requested permission earlier this week from the Downtown Development Authority to take out a loan for the improvements. When the building reopens in several months as Tavern on Main, nighttime patrons will be able to drop by for a beer and sandwich, or wine and tapas, before leaving Duluth.

Chris McGahee, economic development manager of Duluth, said the boost in downtown nightlife business is part of a larger trend toward reinventing the city as a "destination with an identity."

"As it becomes more of a destination, you'll have transitions like this one," McGahee said. "It will definitely trend toward other buildings heading into entertainment ventures. It creates a whole new attractive ambience."

The traffic patterns created by Red Clay Theatre, which opened in December, have given business owners like Cossette and Howard "the idea that they can capture that traffic...they want people to stay downtown, and that's the goal," McGahee said. "Once the patron is here, it's about keeping them around so they can discover all the other shops and everything Duluth has to offer."

The city of Duluth is bracing for the trend.

Government officials are currently soliciting bids for better night lighting in the downtown area as well as repainting crosswalks and parking spaces to make it safer and easier to navigate.

"We're putting in lighting so that wherever you park in the 730 free parking spaces that it's well-lit, and we're resurfacing parking areas," McGahee said.

McGahee said officials with the city want to invest in the "reinvention and adaptive reuse" of the downtown historic area.

"Adaptive reuse means we're meeting the needs of the times we're in," he said. "We're trying to attract people back here to a nice city center that's full of fun options and full of things to do."

Creating such an atmosphere, he said, creates a "generational legacy."

The historic structures downtown make that possible. "Having this stock of historic buildings means that no matter what has happened over the years, the buildings have survived it. You can talk to someone who is 90 years old who remembers some of these buildings, and they can share that memory with a young person who is enjoying downtown Duluth for their very first time."

Tavern on Main owners said they appreciate the historical aspects of the building they will occupy.

While renovating the old antiques store this week, Tavern on Main co-owner Shelly Howard said workers came across some of the original brickwork behind the wall. "It's incredible to see that," Howard said. "Visually, it's remarkable."

Howard said "there's a lot of excitement" about the future of downtown Duluth. "We are thrilled to be a part of it."

Tavern on Main is slated to open in about three months with a dining and bar area that will seat about 50.

Comments

kevin 2 years, 8 months ago

the reason for this pub is absurd! Duluth, a great entertainemnt place? Really? While they give this guy a liquor permit, the don't give it to a great downtown place that has left because they couldn't get a license. Remember Bourdreaux's? A packed, great food place to go and it has moved to Buford Hwy and Old Peachtree Rd.

Another pub will only result in more police trouble.

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RiggaTony 2 years, 8 months ago

I agree. People shouldn't be engaging in activities I don't agree with, like consuming alcohol. I also don't see the need for 'nightlife.' As my mother used to say, "Nothing good happens after 5pm."

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skysage 2 years, 8 months ago

No new business means less buildings occupied, so you would rather have no revenue for the town, and no small business that is open at night, what a shame.

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nicholson 2 years, 8 months ago

What an egotistical and sanctimonious comment there, Rigga Tony. This is America and we can happily engage in legal activities that you may or may not agree with. I am sure you are sound asleep by 7 pm, so it is really none of your business if other folks are enjoying themselves.

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RiggaTony 2 years, 8 months ago

Sir, I do not appreciate the harsh language you feel you need to use to address my comment. And yes, I am often in bed by 7pm, but I hardly see how that is your business.

More importantly, you are absolutely right about this being America. Which, let us not forget, is a Christian nation. These means that our forefathers intend for us to uphold Christian ideals, including temperance and propriety. And let's face it - as the evening hours wane on, the propensity for non-Christian activities (and even criminal ones) increases significantly. Advocating for bars and 'nightclubs' is not only amoral - it is a slap in the face of our founding fathers and the ideals America was founded on.

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skysage 2 years, 8 months ago

Yes, this move half a mile is troublesome, but it is also bigger and more parking, so no problems for the business, just a little farther to drive! I can't wait for them to re-open!

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GeorgiaDuck 2 years, 8 months ago

More pubs and restaurants in Duluth should be a welcome addition. Great location as well. A few more on either Main or West Lawrenceville Street could build some synergy for Downtown.

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skysage 2 years, 8 months ago

I agree! More small business to make downtown Duluth a place to go, not just sit in traffic and drive through!

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Mack711 2 years, 8 months ago

Not sure if this idea is going to work. Many business have come and gone in the downtown area since the new City Hall was built. Most outside the area do not know where City Hall is and those who do know stay away from the area when there is a large event in Taylor park. Parking is terrible around that area. The crowd that goes to the Red Clay may not want to go here. Just wait and see what happens, who knows maybe this idea will work.

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Ashley 2 years, 8 months ago

Sounds great. Norcross had to fight the Baptists for year to get their downtown turned around. Now those same Baptists are at all the restaurants.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 8 months ago

At the restaurants or in the city jail, because they get stopped every time they leave for DUI... Smart idea for Duluth, bring them in, feed them, give them drinks, arrest them for DUI, all within 2 miles.... convenient....

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