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Windsor looks for ways to help Town Green restaurants

By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Big crowds for summer night concerts on Windsor’s Town Green haven’t translated to more customers for adjacent restaurants, and the Town Council wants to help.

Council members on Wednesday discussed ways to increase patronage for surrounding business, including possibly closing another street to cars to allow local restaurants to set up food booths.

“Restaurants could come out on McClelland (Drive) and have a street presence,” suggested Councilwoman Debora Fudge, who said other local businesses might also participate.

Fudge and fellow council members spent more than two hours reviewing a list of more than a dozen recommendations that came out of two previous public meetings. The council solicited opinions on the summer series that ranges from concerts, to kids’ movies, to Shakespeare on the Green.

The council reached consensus on adding more portable toilets, continuing to allow dogs on a leash and increasing security to ensure concertgoers abide by chair height limitations.

The most contentious issue came from some local restaurants that have complained their business actually dropped on Thursdays during the concerts because the simultaneous farmers market has brought in out-of-town food vendors.

None of the Windsor restaurateurs appeared at Wednesday’s council meeting. Town officials said they may have been placated knowing that they will be part of a subcommittee to investigate and recommend ways to increase patronage during the summer night events.

Some of the ideas include having a “shout out” during band breaks to let the audience know about specials and discounts, although council members said that may not be enough.

“Talking heads won’t necessarily do anything. People will ignore it,” said Councilman Sam Salmon, who added “during the concerts there’s no one going to go to the business to any great degree.”

But overall, officials said the summer entertainment that just ended was a success.

“People were happy enjoying concerts. They were downright bubbly,” said Mayor Steve Allen.

“Last year was just phenomenal. It’s the safest and happiest people have been,” said Glenda Castelli, manager of the Certified Farmers Market. Her organization is a partner in the summer series and sponsors some concerts.

Windsor, which has completed 11 seasons of summer events on the Town Green, describes it as the town’s “signature attraction.”

Windsor draws some of the biggest crowds in Sonoma County among cities that stage free concerts and events throughout the summer.

Approximately 7,500 to 8,000 people flocked to the largest of the 2011 concerts that included bands such as It’s a Beautiful Day, Tommy Castro and Wonderbread Five.

Theater on the Green produced a total of six performances over two weekends, with an average of 300 people per show.

Most of the costs of staging the Thursday night events are offset by almost $57,000 in sponsorship money and another $13,700 of in-kind services.





11 Responses to “Windsor looks for ways to help Town Green restaurants”

  1. Marx Was Left says:

    The Windsor City Council should setup a soup kitchen at the concerts for the homeless, poor and unemployed if they really care about feeding people who attend the concerts.

    They have had their socialist claws in Windsor for so long they want everyone to participate equally. This is certainly one way to make sure to each according to her needs approach works in Windsor.

    They determine the needs and they determine how much each need gets. It a perfect solution to an imperfect Windsor world.

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  2. Mr. Obvious says:

    Kay — I agree with your first two paragraphs, not your second two. Maybe you haven’t been to a Windsor Town Green event. People set up with virtual banquet tables at these events. LOTS of food and beverage is enjoyed at these events. Most of it is bought from Windsor merchants.

    As I said below, just because the Town Green restaurants don’t offer what people want to enjoy doesn’t mean we should force people not to enjoy what they want.

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  3. Steveguy says:

    Windsor Town Green is and has been a bankrupt scheme from the start.

    Some think a train will help.

    The developers walk away with millions, and we ( the taxpayers) end up holding the tab, whether through redevelopment or bankruptcy.

    Hello Smartgrowth, every project has gone bankrupt in this county. Really, name me one smartgrowth developer that hasn’t declared bankruptcy after reaping millions, name one.

    And this is what the SMART Train espouses. Vibrant “Town Greens ” — go figure.

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  4. Kay Tokerud says:

    This Smartgrowth redevelopment project is unsustainable because smartgrowth and redevelopment are both failed models that leverage future property taxes to pay for fat subsidies that already have been put into the pockets of the developers. These developers then move onto the next town to pick the taxpayer’s pockets.

    The ground floor retail spaces are too small, too expensive, don’t have enough parking and generally can’t compete with older style retail properties in the surrounding areas. Having outside vendors coming in that compete with these businesses makes it even worse. Many businesses have come and left since the creation of this fake mainstreet development.

    People come to these free concerts bringing in their own food and wine instead of patronizing these struggling new businesses. The only vendors that should be allowed on the green should be the tax paying business owners surrounding the green.

    If the City of Windsor cares one bit about the businesses, they will not allow people to bring in food from other places. After all, the events are free and they should spend some money.

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  5. James Bennett says:

    Once you discover what’s really goin’ on, business freindly ideas
    (from ICLEI cronies) get on you nerves. Like a bully acting like your freind in front of parents, then busting your nose and taking your lunch money a half hour later. It’s condescending-to me anyway.
    For example; the whole downtown is a Redevelopment area. It’s mathematiclly IMPOSSIBLE to grow the free market economy as such.
    Break our legs, then try to look like heros for selling us crutches.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  6. Don says:

    The council has had there hand in running the downtown from the beginning. The Homeowners of the condos whine everytime a new business whats to open. The homeowners stopped Starbucks from opening early and make Patterson close at midnight everyday. The council has protected us against the businesses that bring people downtown. Tat parlors,smoke shops,and offices are not permitted uses in our downtown. Look at how the city leaders treat this area and how it is becoming a ghost town. Deb stop telling us how to live and what is good for us! We will figure it out!

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  7. Mr. Obvious says:

    The real problem here is a restaurant owner looks out his window at 7000 people having fun eating and drinking and he isn’t part of the party. So he blames the party because he is the only one not having fun.

    But just because the restaurants on the Town Green are not making out from the concerts doesn’t mean no one in Windsor is. The fact is, a lot do! Like, try to find a box of sushi or chicken strips in the deli case at Raley’s or Safeway at 5:00 on Thursday!

    When I go to the Green, I take food I bought in Windsor, maybe from Subway, Round Table, or sometimes we’ll grab something at the concert from one of the local fundraising booths. For me it is a simple choice between a $5 foot-long and a decent bottle of wine, or a $12 hamburger at Kin and $5 beer. The choice is obvious, Kin’s hamburger isn’t worth the price, neither is the beer. So when the Town Green restaurants say money isn’t spent for food and drink in Windsor and/or directly benefiting Windsor, that simply isn’t true.

    Their problem is they have 7000 hungry and thirsty customers miraculously show up just outside their door every week, and they don’t have a product to sell. Maybe they’ll catch on eventually: If you don’t have a product people want then don’t expect them to come knocking down your door to do business.

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  8. Money Grubber says:

    The headline would be far more appropriate if it read:

    “Windsor Looks For Ways To Increase Its Tax Revenue”

    The existing headline makes it, falsely, appear as if the town government was just trying to be helpful.

    Truth hurts.

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  9. Amy Thompson says:

    Maybe if the restaurants in Windsor served better food at a more reasonable price, they would have more customers.

    Having a fine dining experience in Disneyland is not my idea of a good meal or a good time.

    Windsor restaurants need to wake up to what and where they are. They are in a little town where lots of families live. It is not San Francisco with fine dining and great service. That’s why a coffee shop makes money there and the fancy places go out of business.

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  10. Graeme Wellington says:

    Could the restaurants offer good food cooked to order from fresh local sourced ingredients at an affordable price? It’s been my experience that restaurants with good food will always have customers. I’m sure everyone here knows a hole in a terrible location that has great food and you keep going there regardless of the location. Right?

    All the Windsor restaurants need to watch any episode of Kitchen Nightmares, because the bad ones all seem to have the same exact problems:

    The are re-heating frozen food. Their menu is over-complicated. They don’t do anything to distinguish their restaurant from every other in a dense restaurant market. And the number one problem is bad food or high prices.

    Our local politicians can’t solve this problem any more than they have solved any of the others. Just make it easy to open and operate and stop taxing them out of existence. I still think of that Pizza parlor in Rohnert Park that had to get a loan from the city to pay his sewer connection fee.

    How about Windsor eliminating as much red tape, fees, taxes, permits as possible? These businesses probably are regulated and taxed out of business because they have to pass so many costs on to the customer. Windsor needs to think long term. You get nothing from a failed business. So lay off. Problem solved.

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  11. Mike says:

    Who wants to sit on a lawn eating cold overpriced food from a street vendor using plastic forks and plastic plates?

    Another stupid idea from Ms. Fudge. When I attend one of these events with my family I want to enjoy the music and not sit next to someone slurping down a cool plate of beans and rice.

    If the Windsor city council seriously wants to help restaurants in Windsor, they need to do something about bringing more people downtown. The place is a ghost town with too many closed businesses right now.

    A decent grocery store would be a good start. A great pizza palor would be another addition.

    I am sure street food vendors selling bad food is not the answer. It is a much bigger and more profound problem.

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