For those of you lamenting downtown's lack of exciting restaurant choices, please direct your attention for a moment to an arguably more disturbing development going on at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and McDowell Road -- an intersection that touches the F.Q. Story, Willo, and Encanto-Palmcroft historic districts -- and take a long, deep breath.
Smell that? That's the stench of the fast food dump developers are continuing to take in what could have been one of many different and more interesting solutions of what to do with this historic district intersection. In this case, favoring several national fast food chains over independent restaurant owners as a way to define "progress."
The latest victim? The My Florist building.
In the building along the north side of McDowell leading into Seventh Avenue (and former home of a flower shop, antique market, and the Willo Bakery), the My Florist Café, the onetime popular eatery that closed in the fall of 2010, is currently being gutted for a fourth Habit Burger Grill. The hamburger chain out of California plans to open the location in June, right across the street from Five Guys because, apparently, putting the two burger joints directly on top of each other was out of the question.
The fate of the purple My Florist vintage sign above the structure, according to a source, is being decided by the landlord and the city -- or to put it another way: Oh, shit.
The fast food dump started last year when a group of 60-year-old buildings on the southeast corner of the intersection were gutted, repainted, and expanded to make room for the likes of a Five Guys, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jersey Mike's Subs, Zoyo Neighborhood Yogurt (a local chain), and the sushi-made-Subway-style eatery, How Do You Roll? So far, only Vovomeena, the coming-soon breakfast eatery from Tuck Shop and Astor House owner DJ Fernandes is the only non-franchised tenant in the bunch.
Prior to that, in the brick building on the southwest corner of Seventh Avenue and McDowell, local establishments were replaced by Pei Wei and a Starbucks. At least SideBar, the popular neighborhood bar with a retro-futuristic swank which moved in afterwards, has stuck around to keep things real.
Will the flicker of local flair be enough to keep the intersection from smelling like a grease fryer or should we start waving goodbye to a vanishing piece of the city's history?
Whatever happens, these days, this historic district intersection is feeling anything but -- and that stinks.