Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.
After several local restaurants and stores shut down during COVID, a new generation of Marblehead businesses is opening and welcoming customers.
”Positivity and optimism are way higher than they have been in years,” said Marblehead Chamber of Commerce Director Katherine Koch. “We’re riding high on that.”
Dining & drinking
At least half a dozen new places to eat and drink have opened in Marblehead in the last several months, including Le Ros, an Asian/Thai eatery at 26 Hawkes St. (where the old Thai Market used to be).
Peking Duck is the most popular item on the menu, according to Le Ros co-owner Ron Szarkowski. “The curries are also popular. And Pad Thai is always everyone’s favorite.”
Amores Kitchen, at Village Plaza, opened July 14 offering authentic Mexican cuisine.
Owner Enrique Garcia has other restaurants in Haverhill and Dallas, Texas. His favorite thing on Amores’ menu is the Enmoladas – chicken enchiladas with mole sauce. Mole is a mix of chilis and chocolate.
Also at Village Plaza, the Mai Tai Lounge opened last December, with what owner Kevin Le describes as “upscale and modern Asian cuisine.”
“We use a lot of fresh seafood, high quality food with Asian spices,” he said.
It’s best known, however, for its handcrafted cocktails, including Mai Tais with names like “Oh My Mai Tai,” and “High Tide Mytai.”
The Elia Taverna, 261 Washington St., opened in June. Co-owner David Qyrasi also runs the Plus K Cafe on Atlantic Avenue, along with the Peabody Diner and Mr. Q Cafe in Charlestown.
“Here we serve traditional Greek food from the mainland and the islands,” he said. “I really like the Shrimp Santorini. For appetizers, the homemade spinach pie is really good.”
The Elia Taverna also serves Greek wine and cocktails.
“We’re introducing people to Greek wine, and so far everybody really likes it,” Qyrasi said.
The Drink Station, 146 Washington St., opened in June with boba (bubble tea), juices and smoothies.
“Boba is very popular in other cities ,and I wanted to bring it to Marblehead,” said owner Daniel Liang, who sometimes brings his young sons, ages 3 and 8, to the shop.
“My 8-year-old loves boba and explains to customers what it is,” he said with a laugh.
With inflation and consumer costs high, you might guess that it’s a good time to open a consignment shop. And you might be right.
“I’ve been open for two months, and I’ve done phenomenally,” said Kathleen Doyle, who launched Sistas Consignment at 1 State St. on June 4.
Sistas sells clothing, shoes and accessories. “Anything a woman would wear, other than pajamas and lingerie,” Doyle explained.
How does it work? People bring in items, and if Doyle sells them, she keeps 60 percent and the consignors get 40 percent. So far, she has 120 consignors, mostly from Marblehead.
Fete, which opened at 189 Pleasant St. this spring, is Laura Rosenberger’s third store in Marblehead. It sells vintage home decor, including art, pillows, Moroccan textiles, vases and small pieces of furniture. (Rosenberger previously owned Piria Luna on Atlantic Avenue and Issalak on State Street.)
Fete was doing well until the construction at the nearby intersection of Village and Pleasant streets impacted traffic and parking. She’s planning a grand reopening in September. She has faith in local shoppers.
“Marblehead is a unique place,” said Rosenberger, who lives in Salem. “It’s so supportive of local businesses. In Marblehead, everybody shops in Marblehead, people do everything in Marblehead. The tourists are nice, but it’s the locals who really support me.”
Marblehead Mercantile, 132 Washington St., is also a new store.
“We carry casual seaside apparel and gifts for men, women & children designed with original artwork and local motifs,” said Kathleen Schalck. “We would love to be included in any future articles or posts.”
Koch at the Chamber agrees that being a tourist destination helps Marblehead businesses, but it’s the local shoppers who really matter.
“We’re a lean-on-each-other kind of community,” she said.
After several months without a director, the Chamber, under Koch’s leadership, has again been hosting events like the Taste of the Town and Sidewalk Sales. “The more promotion, the better,” she said.