by Pete Mazzaccaro
After a few years of wringing our hands about the pace of vacancies on the Avenue — it’s been more than a year now since Borders Books at the Top of the Hill shut its doors for good — a new crop of restaurant announcements are cause for optimism.
Last Thursday we learned that Iron Hill Brewery had signed a deal to move its large, family-style brew pub into the former Express spot at 8400 Germantown Ave. The news comes on the heels of a number of other exciting restaurant openings — Brian Harrington’s Chestnut7 at the former Solaris site, Chip Roman’s Mica at the former Cuba! and Thai Kuu taking over the former Shundeez Persian restaurant.
Reaction to these stories has so far been overwhelmingly positive. Tired of bank openings, Hillers seem happy for a change of pace.
“Thank God, it’s not another bank!” replied one online commenter to the Chestnut7 story.
“Can’t wait!!!” wrote another in response to the Iron Hill story.
There’s still some distance to go. Borders is still empty. Dozens of other properties on the avenue remain vacant. Still the mini- restaurant renaissance is important. More than any other recent additions to the Hill, these restaurants are going to be a legitimate reason for people outside of Chestnut Hill to come here. Hey, they’ll even provide more reason for people who live in Chestnut Hill to stay here.
These new restaurants should help the whole neighborhood, including the many excellent restaurants we already have. Hopefully, the Avenue is turning a corner.
Now all we need is that 1,000- seat music venue…
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