For years, fashionistas have flocked to downtown Jamaica’s bustling businesses, all while foodies have fled from the relatively restaurant-free landscape.
Downtown Jamaica may be feast for some and famine for others, but the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District is aiming to satisfy the hunger for a new cuisine scene.
That is the one piece of the puzzle that has been missing, according to Jamaica Center BID representative Katie Mirkin.
“If you look within the radius of Jamaica, it’s very dense and the household income is not low,” Mirkin said. “Because there’s not a dining scene here yet, we have a large office worker population that goes elsewhere for their dining needs.”
On Dec. 3, the Jamaica Center BID hosted a program entitled “Jamaica Revealed,” aimed at acquainting area property owners and tenants with representatives from restaurants potentially interested in establishing franchises in the area.
Twelve brokers were present at the seminar, including representatives from popular dining chains like Denny’s, Au Bon Pain, Dallas BBQ and Chili’s
Mirkin believed that the meeting, which featured speeches from marketing and business representatives as well as herself, went incredibly well and helped drum up support for a future restaurant scene in the area.
“It was a success. We had a great turnout,” Mirkin said. “We got great feedback from brokers that didn’t even know about the potential here.”
According to the BID, more than 260,000 people, including pedestrians and subway and train riders, traversed through downtown Jamaica on any given day in 2012. While these people find no issue enjoying the many shops or entertainment centers in the area, the restaurant industry is not well represented.
The BID, in a supplement handed out to attendees of the event, revealed that such potential can be quantified in the form of $196 million in unmet dining demands.
“At the end of the day, [restaurant owners] need to know that they will be making a profit when they invest in a new location,” Mirkin said. “People are starting to ... explore the market and these figures really stand out.”
Possible obstacles in the way of establishing a sizable amount of new eateries are the lack of sufficient parking and a relatively small amount of space currently available, but Mirkin says “it’s one of those things we will find solutions for.”
“Hopefully by this time next year,” she said, “we’ll have new restaurants to talk about.”