MARQUETTE IS APPARENTLY getting a new Chamber of Commerce.
Former City Commissioner Jason Schneider has been working on the project for the last couple of months, surveying more than 40 businesses and trying to determine whether there’s a need for a Chamber.
Schneider says all of the businesses he talked to said, yes, absolutely, we need one. It was unanimous. Whether that means they’d all be willing to come up with yearly dues could be another matter.
The issue is a sensitive one for both Schneider and the Lake Superior Community Partnership which was formed in 1997 to attract and support economic development in Marquette County.
The Partnership’s mission has been broad and ambitious: Forging alliances between businesses, organizations and politicians, while lobbying for Marquette County down in Lansing. The U.P. needs a voice at the Capitol. The Partnership has tried to provide it.
However, the Partnership has also taken on the de facto job of acting as Chamber of Commerce for the business community in Marquette. And there are many in the business community–the smaller merchants with limited resources and a limited voice–who feel under-served by the Partnership.
That’s where Schneider feels this new organization can step in. He’s adamant that the two organizations can coexist and actually help one another. Though some critics have questioned the value of the Partnership, he, himself, believes it plays an indispensable role in the development of Marquette County.
So what will the new Chamber do? It’ll provide networking and communication for all businesses, big and small, in the Marquette area. It’ll provide a voice for the little guy–the one with the tiny storefront and a staff of three–on day-to-day matters in the Marquette business community.
Schneider sees the Chamber extending its reach beyond Marquette, to both the Township and to Harvey. Ishpeming and Negaunee already have their own Chamber. They broke away from the Partnership a few years ago and by all accounts, their Chamber is doing well.
The official announcement of the Marquette Chamber is expected next month. So far, no word on whether it will have a bricks-and-mortar headquarters, and where it might be located.
SPEAKING OF ISHPEMING, the Cognition Brewing Company held its “pre-opening” opening Wednesday evening in the old but refurbished tap room of the Mather Inn.
The place is cozy, polished, and full of charm. Fifty years ago, this was where business and political deals were closed. Now, after being shut down for a couple of decades, it’s been reborn as a microbrewery and a likely new hotspot for Ishpeming residents.
Jay Clancey, who’s an electrical contractor, is the man behind Cognition. He admits he has no hospitality experience but he loves Ishpeming, he loves micro-breweries, and he’s got faith that he’s found the perfect spot for Cognition.
Brewmaster Brian Richards (a former director for TV6 newscasts) was offering up four brews on Wednesday, including Oblivion Milk Stout, Mather Mild, Gnome Wrecker, and Yellow Beady Eyes Wheat, but says the offerings will soon increase to five or six, and they’ll be changing throughout the year.
Could the opening of Cognition help jump-start the revival of downtown Ishpeming? We’ll see.
MEANTIME, A BAR and restaurant occupying one of the best spaces and locations in Marquette County–L’Attitude–is struggling. Or so it seems.
After the sled dog race last month, it started closing down on Sundays and Mondays. Just not enough business.
A personal note: a visit last Friday to Sol Azteca, the Mexican restaurant upstairs from L’Attitude, put us on a waiting list fifteen people long. For two hours, the place was packed to capacity.
Afterwards at 9 pm, we enjoyed a post-dinner drink downstairs at L’Attitude. It was mostly empty. Maybe a dozen patrons.
And this was Friday night, downtown, at a place that boasts a wide selection of drinks, a sleek bar, good food, and a sophisticated, cosmopolitan “vibe.” And a sense of history that you can read on its rustic, old brick walls.
So what’s wrong?
1) Some have suggested branding. It doesn’t have a clear identity. GM Jill Hayes concedes the menu has changed over the years, sometimes emphasizing big meals, sometimes small, sometimes mixed.
2) It just seems too cold in the winter. It needs a fireplace, a place to cozy up to.
3) The service has never been stellar. This was certainly a problem in the early days with L’Attitude, but less so now.
4) There are just too many restaurants and bars in town. Not everybody’s going to make it.
You hate to think that because L’Attitude just…looks so great in the summer. It’s where you take your out-of-town guests who are likely to be impressed by the inside-outside atmosphere of the restaurant. One of the finest Marquette experiences is sitting out on their patio enjoying a meal and a drink while watching the happenings at the park and in the harbor across the street.
Can’t beat it.
That’s summertime. Now they just have to figure out winter. Hayes says they’re hoping to reopen on Sundays and Mondays later this spring.
NOW, AS FOR that unoccupied space at the old Marquette Food Co-op location on Baraga Avenue, it’ll soon be occupied.
By Integrated Wellness Chiropractic.
Chiropractor Brandon Turino, is moving his office from Washington Street to the new location near the Children’s Museum because he’ll have more parking, a slightly bigger space, and better accessibility. No stairs.
He’s also planning on offering new services–soft tissue therapy, yoga, and nutrition counseling.
He’s hoping to be in the new office within four weeks.
No, a new chiropractor’s office isn’t as sexy and exciting as a new bar or restaurant…but maybe a chiropractor stands a better chance of success downtown than a restaurateur or bar owner.
You got news? Click Here to email Brian.