What’s Happening on Main Streets

By Richard Rouse

Like the returning swallows to Mission San Juan Capistrano or those migrating emperor penguins to their Antarctic breeding grounds, the anticipated academic arrival that occurs every Sept. 1 in Mission Hill provokes excitement and expectancy in our local business owners.

Many owners are preparing welcoming specials to entice newcomers to their shops, and also attempting to reschedule deliveries and other incidentals so as to not interfere with the increased traffic, rental trucks and other disruptions associated with the moving-in. The colleges, community leaders and City authorities have been meeting to try to make the process occur with minimal disruption and to head off any problems beforehand.

The Crossing Bar (formerly Curtin’s) will be renamed Puddingstone under new owners—John Casey and Harry Walsh—who are giving the place a facelift and should be reopened before Labor Day. This dependable watering hole will definitely maintain its local charm at the hands of these seasoned publicans. Harry, the consummate gentleman, is co-owner of the Mission Bar. John lived for years on Mission Hill with his stunning better half, former Community Alliance President Jessica Casey. The neighborhood anxiously anticipates the reopening of this Mission Hill mainstay… ‘Nuff said!

Directly opposite the Mission Church entrance, the ornate brick McCarthy Building at 1536 Tremont St. stands as a landmark neighborhood property since 1899. A year ago, a fortune teller opened shop on the ground floor trying to make a go of it. Even without a crystal ball, this humble scribe predicted that such a venture was doomed to failure at that location. On a least a dozen occasions, the proprietress asked to read my palm. Upon each encounter, I politely demurred, but it always made me wonder that if this lady could truly divine the future…why would she waste her breath on me?       Now, an up-and-coming apparel supply company has chosen to open shop at this attractive address to sell hats, t-shirts, jackets and hoodies that have been a hot item in the hip-hop community.

Dorchester born and Cambridge raised, Michael Pires is a Northeastern University grad with an eye for design and a nose for business. Pires and his artist friend Rich Gomez have been extremely successful selling their fashions at public events and online over the past few years. Along with friends Marcus Johnson-Smith and Matt Whormes, this savvy crew of young entrepreneurs developed their Kush Groove Clothing brand into a “look” seen at happening venues across the region. When mainstream rappers like A$AP Rocky wear Kush Groove apparel at concerts, the demand for Kush Groove designs go viral. Michael and his friends have been firing on all cylinders preparing to get the storefront up and operating by move-in day. Good luck!

Earlier today, I made a point to thank Public Works Department Commissioner Michael Dennehy for assigning a “hokey man” to our business district and saying what a positive improvement it has made to the neighborhood this summer. What’s a “hokey man?” That’s the public works guy with the broom and bucket making his way up and down the street removing litter. He hits our streets once or twice a week. When you see him, please give him thumbs up! When his work is “picking up”, the entire community improves.

While I’m on the topic of nice looking streetscapes, the flowers planted in front of the Mission Church look spectacular and the 1575 Tremont Street’s landscaping is over-the-top this year. The Stoneman Centennial Park entry to Brigham and Women’s Hospital is so handsome it classes up Brigham Circle and reminds you of those grand monuments in Washington, D.C. Brigham and Women’s Hospital Environmental Services Department deserves a tip of the cap not only for the look of the park, but also because it diligently takes it upon itself to maintain the veterans memorial plaza in Brigham Circle, year in and year out. Thanks.

That little park is also the site of our Thursday Farmers Market, which we operate with the Mission Hill Health Movement. The market takes EBT, WIC, Farmers Market coupons and senior coupons, which also qualifies for a $10 gift certificate, compliments of the employees of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). The BIDMC employees have made the Mission Hill farmers market their charity by providing needy individuals with fresh fruit and vegetables from our Massachusetts farms. Barry Twomey tells me that next month BIDMC will be partnering with our longtime farmers Gary’s Too Farm from Townsend and MacArthurs Farm from Holliston to provide discount coupons for our senior citizens.

A new addition to our market is The Ancient Bakers who bake heart healthy and diabetic friendly pastries from ancient grains that are deeeelicious. Tonya Johnson and Alex Diaz are the local bakers who each prepare their own special recipes and Tonya’s son Ben, a John D. O’Bryant High School student, helps with the sales. Everything at the market is healthy, fresh and in-season.

For years, the Mission Hill Health Movement has operated out of a plain, nondescript, one-story brick building sandwiched between two of the prettiest structures on Tremont Street. Jim Farrow, Ivis Ayuso, Betty Comerford, Angel Pizarro, Barry Twomey and the rest of the Health Movement gang often mourned the plain-Jane countenance of their headquarters.

Mission Hill Main Streets was recently awarded a grant from the Boston Main Street Foundation to transform the building facade with a colorful trompe l’oeil mural of an old-fashioned storefront. We contracted with Best Dressed Signs out of Jamaica Plain and its husband and wife team of Josh Luke and Meredith Kasabian produced an eye-catching head turner. Their distinctive artistry has received kudos throughout the neighborhood and looks like it’s been with us for years.

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