Monday, May 03, 2021

the joy of change

My neighborhood has more business costume changes than a Cher roadshow.

An economist will tell you a business cycle is "the natural rise and fall of economic growth that occurs over time." And that would be correct if we were discussing the vagaries of the dismal science.

But today's topic is a bit less prosaic than that. I am far more interested in the business cycle on Nueva España, the main street through my neighborhood.

The street is primarily commercial with a few residences sprinkled in to give it the village ambiance that is just this side of Cotswold-charming. There are a few businesses along 
Nueva España that have been there for long before I moved to Barra de Navidad. But there are even more where buildings have hosted a string of hopeful entrepreneurs.

Some successful businesses move to new locations. My neighbor, who owns the popular Ramos Tacos, moved to San Patricio a couple of years ago. My butcher, El Tunco 4, moved from a side street to the more-trafficked Nueva España, just a couple of blocks from his brother who operates El Tunco #2, and right across the street from two other butchers. That portion of the street is hardly a vegan sanctuary.

Not every business is successful enough to pull up meat hooks and move. Like every part of the world, new small businesses are subject to economic, social, and health pressures that are single-minded in defeating the new entrepreneur.

A little cafe that can only be described as cute opened near my friend Lew's house during the height of the virus. It is now an auto parts store. A cup of coffee and a quart of engine oil are not the same thing. At least, not in most cafes. 

On a corner a block from my house is a carnitas stand. Before that it was a gift shop. Before that a beachwear shop.

An ice cream stand that opened a year ago is gone.

And the storefront that is now a bottled water shop occupies a space of a former business that I cannot even remember.

Then there are the new restaurants that pop-up like morels after a rain. I have been amazed at how resilient they are. Several one-woman operations provide food out of their homes, and have been operating as long as I have lived in Barra. 

Others fill recently-unrented space. That is the category of the two restaurants at the top of this essay.

The restaurant on the corner sells hot dogs, hamburgers, and burritos. At least one of the three has a Mexican pedigree. I guess the other two could be classified as international cuisine. Somewhere. The restaurant occupies what was, until recently, the neighborhood internet cafe.

The restaurant next door, with the orange front, serves (or, I should say, served) light Mexican meals -- tacos and the like. Since I have lived in the neighborhood, the building has been a bodega, a wood shop, a juice and snack shop, and I suspect one or two other offerings that I cannot remember. "Restaurant" can now been added to the former occupant list.

In the past six years, the commercial reach of 
Nueva España has marched past my house. A new hotel. A bakery. A new sit-down restaurant. A spice shop. All joining the beauty parlors and the tortilleria near my house.

When I first looked at houses in this neighborhood fifteen years ago, this section of Nueva España was decidedly rural -- or, at least, on the road to rural. My realtor was reluctant to show a city boy the house that had caught my eye on the internet because, as she artfully put it: "The area would not meet your expectations."

As it turned out, the area did meet my expectations. Or, at least, the house with no name did.

In that well-made bargain I received the bonus of a kaleidoscopic business scene.

That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.  

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