A well-conceived third place built at the right time in the right place is known to revitalize its surrounding block, and the Flying Star Cafe in downtown Albuquerque is no exception.
Journalist Jim Belshaw of the Albuquerque Journal writes, “I have lived here long enough to have seen the 30-odd downtown revitalization plans come and go. We all wish the revitalizers well, but the sails never seemed to catch the wind… Things have changed… By 10:30, the walkers begin to show up for coffee breaks. By 11:30, a steady stream of pedestrians comes down the sidewalk, and the parking spaces on the street begin to fill up. By noon, you’re standing in a long line in the Flying Star, and maybe craning your neck to see if Laptop Row has an open spot. Across the street from the Flying Star, ‘live-work lofts,’ residential units with commercial space on the ground floor, are nearing completion.
Local developer Rob Dickson, “A restaurant like the Flying Star isn’t just a restaurant when it’s in a walkable area. It becomes kind of a piece of the community infrastructure. And that area is walkable. The other thing is it probably raises confidence in the area and helps to sell housing.”
What’s the secret? Extraordinary local entrepreneurs, like Flying Cafe’s Mark and Jean Bernstein, “A local has to win one customer at a time. You’ve got to try harder, you have to play the underdog.”