Wednesday, April 26, 2006

T&G: Mayor says loss of Monty's could "be a boon" to Leominster

The fallout from yesterday's announcement that local landmark Monty's Garden was going to be razed in favor of a Walgreen's continues, with another article in today's Telegram and Gazette. Mayor Dean Mazzarella almost sounds like he regrets the impending change, but hey, Walgreens will be a good neighbor, so everything will work out:
Mayor sees pluses, minuses
Drugstore at Monty's site will fill a need

LEOMINSTER--The loss of landmark Monty's Garden could still be a boon to the downtown corridor, Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella said yesterday.

Walgreens is developing plans to build a new store at 35 Central St., where Monty's has stood for more than 70 years. The popular Italian restaurant has been a family business since its founding in 1933.

Walgreens spokeswoman Carol Hively said yesterday plans for the store were very preliminary, but he confirmed the company's interest in building in Leominster.

"It breaks my heart to think of losing Monty's, but I'm not the one who has to make that decision," Mr. Mazzarella said yesterday, referring to the Caligaris family's apparent decision to sell the business.

"I've known the family forever. I know what those people have put in for hours," Mr. Mazzarella said. "They've been around it their whole life."


The mayor said the bright side to Walgreens' entering downtown would be filling a commercial void. There hasn't been a drugstore downtown in years, he said.

"The trick is, can you get a Walgreens to go downtown and look like it belongs here?" Mr. Mazzarella said. He said he surveyed several other Walgreens locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and it appears the company is willing to work with communities on defining a look that fits.
The mayor implies that the family has just tired of working long hours and is ready to sell. Could it be that the family has seen their business suffer with the influx of national chain restaurants over the last five years? Maybe they saw the opening of an Olive Garden off of rte. 2 this fall as the final blow to their business.

And the spin about the city not having a downtown drugstore may be technically accurate (depending on your definition of downtown), but it's pretty disingenuous since a new CVS opened a couple of years ago only two or three blocks south of the site. Not that I have any fondness for CVS, but does Leominster need another chain drugstore three blocks away?

Update 11:40 pm: The Sentinel and Enterprise also had an article on Monty's today. Looks like one of our city councilors gets it:

At large City Councilor John Dombrowski said "it's a shame" that Monty's might be leaving.

"It's a unique restaurant," he said.

The sale might represent an overall problem that all locally-owned restaurants, not just Monty's, are facing, Dombrowski said.

"This may be a sign of them having trouble competing with chains," he said. "So sell out, that's what happens. They sell the real estate, and now they'll be able to sell their liquor license, and there's no shortage of suitors for that."

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