Things are Happening around South Avenue - Gauchos is Coming to Town

Everybody that lives in Westfield knows the less fancy side of the town south of the train station, appropriately named South Avenue. In most towns this would pass as half a main street. A main street with houses and shops only on one side and a big parking lot on the other side. (Historically it would be interesting to know what was there before the parking lot).

On the South side of the town, there are a variety of interesting and peculiar shops and restaurants that probably couldn't make it with the higher rents on the North side. But then there are also quite a few empty store fronts right now. I guess the retail rent inflation on the North side is also starting to affect the stores South of the railroad.

With the nice hot weather on Memorial Day, I decided to take a stroll into town but I decided to change my usual route and walked along South Avenue (instead of North Avenue) which I haven't done in a while. From a restaurant/food perspective I realized three noteworthy things.

1) Classic Thyme has moved to a house on the West side of South Avenue. In my opinion, Classic Thyme is an important institution for Westfield, and I believe it is worth having a few posts about it a later time.

2) Something is finally happening at Mario's Italian Deli. This is an empty store where there was Duke's Deli before at the corner of South Avenue and Summit Avenue. Duke's closed several months ago (maybe even half a year ago, soon thereafter the "Mario's Italian Deli coming soon" sign went up but then nothing ever happened. Today, I saw a few people working in there. So I hope Mario is going to open soon. A really good Italian Deli in Westfield would be more than welcome. At a later post I will share my theory about Italian Delis.

3) In the little strip of shops on South Avenue just west of West Broad Street something is also happening. Gauchos is coming to town. But who the heck is Gaucho? ;)

At that location there were previously several deli type places and then just recently a Mexican place (that I believe was called something like "Taxco Grill" and before that "Cafe Taormin".) They seemingly all weren't that interested in getting customers and subsequently failed. For a restaurant's success location is critical and this particular strip of shops is not a prime restaurant location. Hence, to be successful you have to a) do a lot of marketing/advertisement b) offer the customer something special to give them a reason to come back. This would be either a good price, exceptional food or great service (or a combination of these). If you are just another "me too" type place, you won't survive as a restaurant in a secondary location like this.

Seemingly the previous owners didn't get this very basic message. They didn't do a lot of marketing and they didn't give me any reason to come back after I had visited them once. The deli's in there were just normal basic slightly below average sandwich places with normal prices and uncommitted service. The Mexican restaurant had an interesting sounding menu, but the ambiance was not at all welcoming and it smelled weird. And for that type of place the prices were actually quite a bit high. (Certainly higher than chain competitors like Tinga or Qudoba on the North Side of town)

Now I hope Gauchos is doing a better job and has more fortune thriving as a business at this somewhat disadvantaged place. The sign in the window says "coming soon" and touts it as "Brazilian Cuisine". From the outside you can clearly see that some work is being done to remodel the place. It is not clear yet to me if this is more a take-out/to-go type place or if you can actually sit down and have lunch or dinner. I certainly hope for the latter one. I like Brazilian food and it doesn't always have to be Rodizio, which IMHO is often overpriced and sometimes overrated for what it is.

A somewhat authentic Brazilian Restaurant would certainly be a welcome addition to the Westfield Restaurant Landscape. Gauchos has already registered the appropriate domain http://gauchosbbq.com/ and set up a basic web site that consist only of one photo of the place. And that photo is seemingly a mock-up of what Gauchos wants the place to look like after the renovation. A few chairs and tables outside in front of the place may not be a bad idea.

From the registrant information for the domain you can see that the person who registered the domain has a phone number and mail address in Brazil (but this could also be a company on whose behalf it was registered). So let's hope we get authentic Brazilian cuisine there.

There has been a Brazilian Restaurant in Westfield (partially Rodizio style) several years ago where there is currently Cosi (and before that Wild Noodles). It was called Samba Grill and was actually quite good and reasonably priced. It even had life Brazilian Music on the weekend. They had big crowds during the weekend but I'm not sure how well they were doing during the week (and for lunch). I do not know why they gave up. They had quite a following in Westfield at one point.

We will test Gauchos as soon it opens and report back here.

Good Luck to Gauchos. And maybe in the long run another viable Restaurant Row will develop on South Avenue in Westfield.

Sigining Off - Westfield Blogger

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