Guest Column: Downtown Rockford is buzzing

Thanks to all the people who had good things to say about last week’s column. I’m impressed with the feedback volume. A few quick thoughts this week.

It’s a shame New American Theater closed. That will be a blow to the downtown merchants who had a lot of those patrons in for dinners and cocktails. Good luck to all the people economically affected by that. It is hoped someone will step in and help. I’ve already heard rumors that it will happen.

We were in Appleton, Wis., this weekend for The Wandering Sons CD release party. They are fantastic. Anybody who wants to see what a downtown should look like, just take the 2.5-hour trip to that city. Wow! The Performing Arts Center is fantastic, thanks in large part to the support from local business patrons. The bar/restaurant/shop district should be the envy of any city. We had a blast. We walked the entire trip from the hotel to the PAC to the bars, and it was clean, well lit and FUN!

I think the various governments can now step back and not get hasty on passing smoking bans. As America does well, the free market is taking care of itself. Notable establishments are now making their own choice to go smokeless. Diamond Dave’s, Cru, Carlyle Brewing Co., and others are making that choice, and that’s how it should work. I hope all the proponents who are for smoking bans patronize those establishments that are on your side of the issue. We don’t need government to legislate everything; we’ll sort it all out very soon.

My Lafayette Hotel tidbit of the week is this: they have rooms that will accommodate a person in transition up to executive suites. I encourage the River District to include them on their next walking tour.

The downtown is buzzing, and everybody seems to be busy. The Christmas displays by the merchants are festive, and look great. Merry Christmas to all our friends downtown, and hopefully everyone’s registers will be ringing.

Reggie Roberson is owner of Swilligan’s “The Pub,” 200 N. Church St.

From the Dec. 20-26, 2006, issue

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