By Steven Froias

Contributing Writer

As the sun shines brightly over the City of New Bedford this summer season, a palpable energy fills the air, drawing patrons and businesses alike to the great outdoors. In the wake of the pandemic, sidewalk, and parklet dining have become the norm, transforming the city’s streets into bustling culinary hotspots. Lower Union Street and the area surrounding it stands out as one of the key locations where this trend has taken root, but it is far from the only one.

With innovative eateries leading the charge, New Bedford’s entire hospitality industry is experiencing a renaissance that is redefining the city’s identity. Whether they have tables by the curb or not, well-designed spaces that bring the inside to the street are becoming the norm. For the city’s restaurant scene, it represents a huge evolution.

A Landscape Built for Outdoor Dining

Nestled in the south end of the city, Cisco Brewers Kitchen & Bar stands as a testament to the power of purpose-built spaces with the outdoors in mind. Following the successful model pioneered by The Black Whale restaurant on City Pier 3, these establishments and others have seamlessly integrated themselves into the cityscape, creating unique and inviting spaces for patrons to enjoy. With ample outdoor seating and breathtaking views, they exemplify the spirit of embracing the outdoors.

Both The Black Whale and Cisco Brewers are owned by the visionary entrepreneur Steven Silverstein. He says, “You have to create an environment that makes people happy. Give them something that surprises them and makes them feel special.”

Bringing 40+ years of experience in the restaurant industry to bear in New Bedford has been an honor, he says. Both The Black Whale and Cisco Brewers have exceeded expectations, and future projects at the former National Club property and on State Pier are in the works.

“People look to the dining experience to have fun and be entertained,” he concludes. “And they’re finding that in New Bedford.”

Street-side Ambassadors for New Bedford

The emergence of innovative eateries has brought forth a new level of professionalism and creativity in New Bedford’s hospitality industry. These establishments are not just places to grab a bite to eat; their crews have become everyday, street-side ambassadors for the city.

From knowledgeable restaurant staff to carefully curated menus that showcase the region’s culinary delights, visitors and residents alike are treated to an experience that reflects the city’s unique and authentic spirit.

This dynamism in the hospitality industry has a direct positive impact on the city’s future development. Enjoying a good and meaningful experience at any one of the numerous eateries that now distinguish New Bedford not only significantly adds to the quality of life for residents, but entices newcomers to live, work and invest here.

It’s very likely that for many, a first impression of the city is gleaned while dining out. The owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals of the hospitality industry are therefore creating a delicious virtuous circle to be savored.

A vibrant restaurant industry holds immense significance for the residents of New Bedford, as it provides hundreds of jobs that contribute to the local economy. Recognizing the importance of this sector, the New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC) has been a steadfast resource in supporting the growth and expansion of restaurants.

Through loans and grants, the NBEDC has partnered with remarkable establishments like No Problemo, DNB Craft Kitchen, Union Flats Seafood Co., and many others, helping them thrive. Moreover, the council has actively facilitated complex permitting processes and tax incentives packages for establishments such as Cisco Brewers, understanding the positive impact they have on the community. With an unwavering commitment to playing a supportive role, the NBEDC is eager to continue its efforts and contribute to the exciting atmosphere that the hospitality industry offers to both residents and visitors.

A Symphony of Culinary and Cultural Delights

Beyond the sizzling restaurant scene, New Bedford boasts a rich tapestry of arts, culture, and live music events that further accentuate the city’s street scene. The downtown Summer Sound free concert series, for instance, draws locals and visitors together to revel in the joy of live music under the open sky. From jazz ensembles to indie rock bands, the diverse range of performances adds an extra layer of vibrancy to the summer atmosphere on the street.

Moreover, the city’s commitment to showcasing its artistic side is evident in its myriad of art galleries, museums, and cultural festivals. Visitors can explore the New Bedford Art Museum, immerse themselves in the city’s rich seafaring history at the New Bedford Whaling Museum or New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, or take advantage of an innumerable amount of offerings throughout the summer and, indeed, year-round.

These cultural offerings, combined with the bustling restaurant industry, create a tapestry of experiences that beckon people both outdoors and out and about, inspiring them to engage with the city on a deeper level.

A New Vibrancy for Residents and Visitors Alike

With each passing day, New Bedford’s streets have transformed into dynamic and inviting spaces that inspire exploration and connection.

New Bedford has wholeheartedly embraced the concept of taking life outdoors, and the results are nothing short of remarkable. From the charming sidewalk and parklet dining experiences to the purpose-built spaces of Cisco Brewers and The Black Whale on the working waterfront, the city’s hospitality industry has elevated its game to new heights.

This fusion of culinary delights, cultural offerings, and live music events creates an irresistible allure that draws people outside, transforming New Bedford into a beacon of vibrancy. So, whether you’re a resident or a visitor, be sure to immerse yourself in this outdoor renaissance and let New Bedford’s warm embrace captivate your senses this summer and fall.

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