BERLIN — With three new restaurants slated to open in Berlin this summer, town officials are optimistic that the traditionally early-afternoon hours of most shops might stretch a little later.
“I think it’s a great thing and I think we’ll see some changes in our hours,” said Economic Development Director Mike Day.
Starting next Wednesday, Siculi, a rustic kitchen style Italian restaurant, is set to open its doors. The establishment, which is owned by Ernest Gerardi, will be joined the following week by Paco’s Tex Med and Beyond, also owned by Gerardi and located across Main Street. Finally, The Burley Inn Tavern should be opening just after the Gerardi restaurants, according to owner Cody Bates.
With so many similar businesses hitting Berlin at once, some owners might worry about having sales strangled by competition. However, Burley Inn Tavern owner Cody Bates is operating under a “the more the merrier” outlook.
“I think it can only be good,” he said.
The situation is helped by the fact that each restaurant will be filling their own unique “niche”, according to Bates, including established properties like The Globe and The Atlantic Hotel. With each location supplying something special, Bates expects Berlin to benefit with more visitors attracted by the wealth of options.
Day also felt that having more places to eat in town will have a positive effect on business in general.
“It’s just going to be a magnet for Berlin as a food destination,” he said. “You’ve got people coming over … and now you’ve got three new places.”
With more dinners hitting the town later at night, Day believes that shops and stores in Berlin will be incentivized to keep later hours.
“I think we’ll see some significant changes in the hours of Berlin,” he said.
Mayor Gee Williams foresees a similar turn of events.
“I think anyone who doesn’t expand their hours between now and sometime in the fall is walking away from business,” he said.
According to Williams, more interest has been drummed up over the trio of new eateries than anything in recent town memory.
“The last couple of months I’ve had more people ask me about these restaurants than anything else,” he said.
Williams called Berlin’s dining boom “part of the natural economic evolution of northern Worcester County” and expects the restaurants to help attract even more new business to the area.
Another benefit to having so many dining locations in town, continued Day, is that locals will have more options.
“I think we’ll have more and more people coming to Berlin for dinner … I think the locals are going to not go to Ocean City as much,” he said.
Bates said he has been impressed with the town’s business-friendly approach, specifically discussing the town’s popular EDU extended payment plan, which Gerardi has utilized for both of his restaurants.
The plan allows the expensive EDUs to be paid for over a three- to five-year period, saving owners a significant upfront cost. Because the tavern is going into the old Goobers building, which already had a number of EDUs associated with it, Bates confirmed that he won’t need to use the extension plan to purchase more. However, he added that he was glad it’s there in case he finds out that his establishment uses more water than anticipated.