Thursday, July 19, 2012

Outdoor Dining Grows in Bedford

The past few months have seen new outdoor dining options in Bedford.

The Boardroom Bistro features outdoor dining for Lunch as well as Sunday Brunch 

The soon to be renamed Carriage House has added several Picnic Tables just across the parking lot. 

The Carriage House also has a few small tables just outside the Cafe.

Cafe Darling which opened earlier this month, has a large patio with lots of tables.

FireBox added several outdoor tables earlier this year. The McDonalds across the street also has some outdoor seating.

 Bistro 44 at The Bedford DoubleTree has an outdoor patio open Tuesday and Wednesday evenings during the summer. The patio also features live music.

Outdoor Dining has become more popular in Massachusetts in the past few years. Almost all new restaurant construction includes outdoor seating.

Ginger, which should be re-opening in the next few months on the Blake Block may include outdoor seating.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bedford Farmers Market Returns for One Day

After 4 seasons at Depot Park, The Bedford Farmer's Market is returning for 2012 but just for one day at the Town Hall Parking Lot on Sunday July 22nd from 12:30-4:30pm.

I recently spoke with Barbara Purchia, President of The Bedford Farmers Market. According to Barbara, the Farmer's Market has had a hard time attracting visitors. In 2010 the Farmer's Market averaged 360 people per day (up to 700 on the biggest day) with an average spend of $18 per person. In 2011, they averaged 190 people per day with an average spend of $15 per person. People really loved the Market but the Vendors were not able to make enough money, so a decision was made to suspend the weekly market for 2012.

In talking with Town Residents, Barbara and the rest of her team found out that many people were not able to make it during the week. Meanwhile, most of the Vendors really liked the Bedford Farmer's Market and wanted to try again. Based on that, they decided to to test having the Farmer's Market on a Sunday. They also decided to have it closer to the Center of Town by moving it from Depot Park to the Bedford Town Hall Parking Lot.

If the Sunday Farmer's Market is successful for the vendors, the group would entertain having it on a monthly basis.

According to the Bedford Farmer's Market, about 60% of visitors are Bedford residents, 15% from surrounding towns and 25% from further away (some of these probably work in Bedford). It will be interesting to see how The Farmer's Market does on a weekend. You lose the workers in town but probably gain a lot more local residents.

Farmer's Markets in Massachusetts tend to be organized by town. For example Lexington has a Farmer's Market on Tuesday's, Billerica on Mondays, Acton on Sunday's, etc... Many of the local markets have overlapping vendors which makes it difficult to enough visitors to get these vendors to commit to an additional market/day. Would it make sense to combine two or more towns in order to ensure success of the Market? For example, you could have a combined market for Bedford and Burlington. One idea would be to hold it in the parking lot of an office park (i.e. Network Drive) located between the two towns. This way you could attract residents from both towns plus you would also get office workers from the office park.