By Steven Froias
When you try something new, there’s always some risk involved.
Is this something people want or desire? What will folks think about this – and how will it be perceived throughout the city?
In 2018, it was decided that the best way to Love The Ave – as in the commercial corridor Acushnet Avenue and its greater north end neighborhood – was to brand it as a unique destination for dining in New Bedford. Because hey – there’s something like 8 million, or about 40-50 – bakeries, eateries and restaurants, Coggeshall Street and north.
Many are so authentically New Bedford you just have to mention their names to provoke outbursts of passion. Pa Raffa’s. Mimo’s. Endzone. Antonio’s. Dog House…
Love The Ave is a community group leading the charge to make sure Acushnet Avenue and these places, as well as the evolving dynamic community of the north end, stays not just in our memories but our present-day conscious.
The New Bedford Economic Development Council, with the support of the Mayor’s office, has been very supportive of any and all ideas to promote this unique district within the city – and this writer has been happy to help establish the Love The Ave & North End Restaurant Week as an event by which to make that happen.
It’s a lot of work – and we’ve got a lot of work to do yet. This year’s restaurant week is deeper and richer than last year’s – and next year’s will be stronger still.
This year we have partners who are more invested in this crazy idea. Martha Gonzalez at Adriana’s Mexican Restaurant. Troy DeMello at the Endzone. Sandra Da Silva at Incognita. Kristin Raffa Cahill of a family business I need not name. Peter at Cafe Europa, Joe at Girassol Restaurant, Dennis at Danny’s Seafood and Lorenzo at his bakery – I could go on, but you can see them all brought into the spotlight at lovetheave.com.
Putting together this year’s Love The Ave & North End Restaurant Week – taking place Sat. Sept. 21 through Sat. Sept. 28 – has been fun.
This past Sunday, it promised to be almost too much fun.
That’s when I was I was chased down Acushnet Avenue by a drag performer – part of a trio who made up this month’s Drag Queen Brunch at Incognito.
Now, as a writer, I am naturally somewhat shy. I prefer to be behind a keyboard than before an audience.
When you walk into the middle of a Drag Queen Brunch though, all bets are off. And hey – this is #OnTheAve after all!
Let’s be honest, it was always a gamey place. Old-timers still tell the stories about “cruising The Ave” every Friday and Saturday night. Newly licensed teens drove like Easy Riders; engines roared and fights broke out. Hell, back then there was a porn cinema on the street. (Now it’s a Waterfront Area Historic LeaguE project!)
You have to expect some of the old wildness to resonate through the years, and be prepared for anything.
I entered Incognito innocently enough. I was dropping off restaurant week postcards to owner Sandra Da Silva.
Suddenly, from across the packed room, I heard, “WHO are YOU!!??”
I knew I was in trouble.
“Just making a delivery,” I said as I started to step back in my tracks towards the door.
“GET in HERE!” came the command from the queen.
“Uh…I gotta run…” I squeaked in reply. By now, all heads in the room were turned to look at me as if by royal command.
And then, she came after me. All 6 foot 3 inches (in heels) of her flew across the room in my direction in an instant. I thought I was going to be beheaded!
I made for the door – but she was too quick. As she arrived by my side, she whispered in my ear, “Run out the door and by the front windows!”
I obeyed. She chased me out the door and along the street under the windows to whoops of laughter from the audience.
That’s Acushnet Avenue today. It’s eclectic. It’s fun. It’s surprising. It knows how to run in high heels.
Get yourself to the north end next week for restaurant week. Keep Acushnet Avenue funky and get yourself fed at some terrific eateries.
We’re having a kick-off for the week on Sat. Sept. 21 beginning at 12:30 p.m. at Adriana’s (1262 Acushnet Avenue). The Southcoast Brass Band will be there at 1:00 p.m.
It’s a good starting point to begin your own Ave adventure.
Though I can’t promise you’ll be pursued by a beautiful drag queen, Martha says she’ll have strawberry cream cheese chimichangas on the menu. It’s a beginning!