By Shawn Spencer
Week two of outdoor dining is in the books. The City of Monrovia has opted to block the 400 block of Myrtle on Friday and Saturday nights, in an effort to allow more outdoor dining. Throw in some perfect weather and you have the makings of a lovely evening out in Old Town. Unless, that is, you are of the mindset that a picture is worth a thousand words.
A local Monrovian posted on social media that “Myrtle was crazy tonight!” Was it, though? The picture attached to the post showed tables full of people. It caused quite an uproar amongst viewers; last comment count was at 611. Some called Old Town “The next ground zero,” a “superspreader” or even a “COVID hot spot.” Others loved the revitalization of Myrtle. They felt safe and enjoyed dining outdoors. In my opinion, the photo is deceptively misleading, due to the angle of the shot.
So, what does this mean for Myrtle’s future of outdoor dining? How do we meet in the middle and make both sides of the mask happy? Can we? I, too, was on Myrtle Saturday night. Yes, it was crowded. I saw tables full of people, dining unmasked. All tables were strategically placed 8 feet apart. I saw a lot of sidewalk traffic, all masked. I felt totally comfortable, but I can see why others might not. I think there are ways to mitigate this problem. Restaurant owners: get customer cell phone numbers at the hostess stand. Ask patrons to move off Myrtle and return once they receive a call or text, notifying them that their table is ready. City of Monrovia: designate each sidewalk for one-way foot traffic and utilize Community Center employees to help remind pedestrians to not gather or linger, blocking the sidewalk.
This is a work in progress for all of us. The only way to make it work is through [constructive] feedback and steadfast observation of the guidelines. Of all the times Monrovia has needed to come together as a community, why can’t we do it now? There seems to be no “we” only us and them. There is so much vitriol and fear, a true divide. We need to keep our residents healthy and safe, while supporting our small businesses. We cannot do that if we are fighting on Facebook.
Now, it is with a heavy heart that I ask you to join me in bidding a fond farewell to Wil’s Sport & Tackle. After eight years of being Monrovia’s go-to guy for all things fishing, Luke Fitzpatrick has permanently closed its doors. This is made more saddening by the recent closure of The Dollmaker’s Kattywompus that was owned by his dear mother Pam Fitzpatrick (d. 2018), and his dear aunts Jennifer (d. 2019), and Cindy. It feels like the end of a very special era of Old Town. Thankfully, Luke is still an integral part of Old Town, keeping us all online at his company Monrovia Tech Support.
Change is definitely upon our Old Town. I am anxious about what is coming next, while looking forward to it. My hope is that we can grow while maintaining the charm and community-oriented vibe.