BUSY DOWNTOWN. PEOPLE everywhere.
The epicenter seems to be the recently opened Iron Bay Restaurant and Drinkery. Co-owner Joe Constance is reluctant to talk about numbers but concedes that the restaurant is averaging more than 600 customers a day. Some days, it’s hit 800 plus.
Crazy volume. Double what he was projecting.
Of course, it is summer when the tourists have arrived in force, and the Iron Bay is still in its honeymoon phase when all the locals want to give it a try. But still.
It’s good to see that space–in an historic building in a wonderful location–next to the park and the lake–finally realize its potential. Something else that seems to be working is the surprisingly modest prices. That’s sure to win the heart of budget-conscious Yoopers.
It can’t be stated enough: Marquette has a remarkable array of restaurants and bars, many of them new or renewed (see the Delft, Digs, the Bodega, the Recovery Room).
Smiles all around now. But let’s see how they look come September 1st, or better yet November 1st. That’s when we’ll find out who has the staying power.
THE TOURISTS ARE coming here in spite of this telling statistic: Marquette is the third most expensive summer destination in the Midwest this summer. That’s according to ChicagoHotels.org.
Traverse City was tops at $221 a night for four day weekends in August. Geneva, Wisconsin came in second at $207, and Marquette was third at $194 at night. The survey considered only hotels and inns that were 3-stars or better.
Also on the list, Ann Arbor was fourth at $192. Madison was $182.
Chicago was $176.
You can quibble with the numbers and the methodology but the fact remains, Marquette is by no means a cheap little getaway.
SEVERAL WEEKS BACK, Edge of Reality, that virtual reality arcade on Washington Street, was promoted as a pop-up, “one month only!” business.
Well, guess what? It’s popped up and it’s apparently staying.
Owner Jeff Nyquist says business was hit-and-miss at first but then it exploded. Word-of-mouth and social media spread the word.
It’ll be opening at noon now, instead of 3 pm.
Nyquist, playing it conservatively, is still renting the space month-by-month.
It’s a three year grant that will allow two exciting, innovative programs to work under one roof with the same management. Namely, SmartZone CEO Ray Johnson, who has a ton of experience with startups and venture capital.
The SmartZone deals with new tech-based businesses. Invent@NMU deals with brand new physical products. Frequently there’s overlap, and sometimes confusion–who to go to?
No more. Johnson moves into the Invent@NMU building in a few weeks. You got an idea to make money? That’s where you’ll go.
THE LATEST REPORT from the CDC tells us the national opioid epidemic may finally be trending down. Doctors are prescribing fewer of potent painkillers which act much like morphine.
Seems to be the case here too, according Detective Lieutenant Tim Sholander of UPSET and Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt. It’s still a big problem but most doctors are showing more restraint when it comes to their prescriptions.
As for meth, those numbers are down, too. Sholander says his team dealt with 92 meth “incidents” (houses, arrests, etc) in 2015, only 62 last year. Still too many, but an improvement.
Now the bad news. Heroin is on the rise in the U.P. If you thought it was just an inner city problem, think again.
And it’s heroin that’s frequently laced with Fentanyl, an opioid far more potent than morphine. Deadly stuff.
So why is heroin making its way up to the U.P? Real simple. A tenth of a gram of heroin sells for $10-15 in Detroit, according to Sholander. In the U.P., a dealer will make $40-60 for the same amount.
Go where the money is.
SPEAKING OF TRENDS.
Marquette Township officials had been noticing in recent years that their fire department was making more and more medical calls, as opposed to fires. Because of an aging population?
Whatever the reason, they’d respond to the calls in a truck and provide emergency care on the spot but they didn’t have an ambulance in their fleet to convey the patients to the hospital. They’d have to call an ambulance service, which took time, and they never got reimbursed for their efforts. Only the ambulance did.
Problem solved, according to Township manager Randy Girard. They’ve now bought an ambulance, a used one but still with plenty of miles on it. It’ll arrive here next week.
So. Quicker service for patients. A source of income for the Township. Win-win at a time when so many municipalities are strapped for cash.
LOTTA RAIN THIS spring means it should be a good wild blueberry crop this summer, according to Jim Isleib of the MSU Extension Service.
No stress from heat, but there was enough warmth to allow the pollinators to do their jobs.
Isleib warns, however, that a new fruit fly, the Spotted Wing Drosophila, has made its way into the U.P. over the last few years and is creating problems for all the berries. Specifically, unlike other fruit flies which usually congregate around overripe fruit, the Drosophila lays its eggs in ripening fruit.
Maggots on your berries. Lovely.
Agronomists and farmers are now trying to come up with ways to discourage the little buggers.
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