What’s Happening on Main Streets

O come, all ye faithful. Holiday shopping on Main Streets takes on a different emphasis with Mayor Marty Walsh promoting the #5onMain Challenge. I’ll confess that last month I might have gone overboard editorializing about the importance of shopping locally. (My wife often tells me that washed-up politicos tend to pontificate…She’s right…She’s always right!) The mayor feels that if everyone can make five purchases from local businesses during the holiday season, you’ll have done your part to support local business. I’ve already done my five, and I recommend gift cards. They are always the right size, and can be easily re-gifted!

Mission Hill Main Streets welcomes a new business with a grand old name to Brigham Circle. Kwik-E Pizza at 738 Huntington Ave. has provided steadfast good food to the neighborhood at a reasonable price since 1964. A half-century in the food business doesn’t happen that frequently anymore. Mission Hill’s loyal customer base is the hallmark of this neighborhood, and Kwik-E is a case study in how to do things correctly.

When Kwik-E chose a successor owner, it didn’t need to look far. Otto Hernandez, owner of Montechristo Mexican Grill at 748 Huntington, a frequent patron of Kwik-E over the years, knows the food business and the neighborhood better than anyone. Otto’s renowned regional Mexican and Central American dishes such as burrito grande, chimichangas, and tres leches cake are to die for! Otto convinced his longtime friend, Manny Sanabria, to run the business for him and to bring some of the Italian dishes he’s been perfected over the past 12 years.

Manny, a Bostonian of Salvadoran extraction, convinced his wife Brigitte, a New Yorker with Columbian lineage, to quit her job and come to work as a team. Their goal is keeping some of the older Greek-style pizzas and items Kwik-E is known for, and supplementing the menu with 25 varieties of Italian style pizza. Their 18-inch pies are sliced in quarters and can be custom-made to your taste.

I bought a chicken ranch and a meat-lovers pizza, which made a big hit with my family last week. Like our Thanksgiving feast, we had leftovers the next day. Kwik-E looks like they’ll be vying for the “Best Pizza” in the Gazette readers’ poll next year!

Mayor Walsh and City Councilors Michael Flaherty and Josh Zakim took a back seat to Santa and his singing elves at the Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 6 in Brigham Circle. John McGonagle and Earl Strong from Brigham &Women’s Hospital served hot cider and cookies to the festive crowd, who weathered the raindrops to attend the annual gathering.

Jason and Melanie Savage led a parade of their neighbors with children from Worthington and Wigglesworth Streets. That historic area looks like a Currier & Ives print, and it is bodes well to see so many young families settling in. At press time, many shops are trying to out-do each other with their holiday window decorations. Fuentes Market is aglow with lights and the Mission Bar is garnished in its yuletide best. Penguin Pizza window displays a Boston Common scene with skaters on the frog pond. Mayor Walsh chuckled when he saw the name Marty on the “nice” list and Dermot and Michel’s names on the “naughty” list adorning the side window.

Special thanks goes to Sheriff Steve Tompkins for arranging to have a crew of his community works program inmates install some 80 Mission Hill Main Streets evergreen wreaths on light poles on the Hill this year. Assistant Deputy Superintendent Heather McNeil, along with Sgt. Micah Brinson and Officer Michael O’Day, oversaw the project with a crew from the South Bay House of Correction wrapping up their sentences who volunteer to help their hometowns before re-entering society. This aspect of “corrections” is the one that I miss the most. Neighbors who’ve messed up, most often compounded by drug and alcohol issues, who’ve paid for their crimes, deserve our support, encouragement and our prayers.

Finally, the folks at Harvard are waking up to the importance of staying involved in the community. At the time, I let it be known that it was a huge error to not fill the vacancy made by the retirement of Bruce Smith, who directed Harvard’s student volunteering program, a few years ago. Well, Leah Kane from the student affairs office at the School of Public Health approached me because many students expressed to her a desire to “give back” to the local community. Leah asked me to convene a meeting with some of our outstanding senior activists, and things are beginning to happen. Lots of ideas were discussed, some angry words exchanged, and a huge step forward has begun, and we are all looking forward to better days ahead.

With that, I’ll close with best wishes for the holidays. Like they say in the carol… I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

The writer is the executive director of Mission Hill Main Streets. See missionhillmainstreets.org.

(from left) New Kwik-E Pizza management team Santos Garcia, Manny Sanabria, Brigitte Sanabria and Otto Hernandez show off their goods at the 738 Huntington Ave. store. (Photo by Richard Rouse)

(from left) New Kwik-E Pizza management team Santos Garcia, Manny Sanabria, Brigitte Sanabria and Otto Hernandez show off their goods at the 738 Huntington Ave. store. (Photo by Richard Rouse)

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