Friday, September 5, 2008

Rediscovering Kittery Foreside

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist

Kittery Foreside, the historic downtown, is being “rediscovered” according to Town Manager Jonathan Carter. In light of new businesses opening in the Foreside, the Weekly Sentinel interviewed locals associated with the area’s ongoing development.
“There was a Foreside Development Committee headed by the late Ray Smith in the late 90s and early 2000s – who decided to bring the Foreside back to life,” explained Carter. “They put in wider sidewalks, decorative lights, wooden signage, and promoted the area, and I think the new businesses (Doo Hair Salon & Tulsi Indian Restaurant) can be attributed to that group.”
Lory Pratt, owner of the stationary store Papers, Ink!, which is located in the Foreside, has also seen slow but steady growth during her time there. “It all started with the café in 2003 (Chef’s Cove Cafe). I was the only retail store down here, then (Restaurant & Bistro) Anneke Jans came and people really started coming. It brought a lot of attention to the area.” Pratt moved from Portsmouth, NH to Kittery in 1983.
According to Anneke Jans Restaurant Manager Anthony Aiken, “business is very good, very healthy, we’re growing and this summer was very good. I think this area will continue to grow. I think there will be more interesting shops and more reasons to come here.”
Town Manager Carter continued, “I think the Foreside’s a unique area. In the warm weather it’s fun to see people walking from Portsmouth to Kittery, and Kittery to Portsmouth. The area is growing and getting better known. And it’s tying in with the small specialty markets on Rt. 1, and John Paul Jones Park down by Warren’s Lobster House.”
Pratt of Papers, Ink! described the recent “Foreside Stroll,” a successful event designed to give Foreside businesses more exposure. “It was an evening when all the shops had open houses with local artists and musicians too. It was a great turnout in June, a nice evening for people to find us.” Future Foreside Strolls are in the works.
Local Foreside business owners have also recently collaborated on creating a map for pedestrian shoppers. “With Enoteca Italiana Grocery and Loco Coco’s Tacos, there is now sort of a walking loop (connecting the Foreside and Rt. 1 businesses),” Pratt said explaining the project. Considering the future of the Foreside, Pratt mused, “I think a lot of people say that Kittery now is what Portsmouth used to be like. We’re just excited about the new restaurants, and about Christine’s too (women’s clothing store).”
Caption: New businesses and restaurants are setting up shop in Kittery’s historic downtown and business owners have collaborated on a map to draw in pedestrian shoppers. (Weekly Sentinel photo)