Monthly Boulevard Stroll in La Mesa Village off to a good start

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Hundreds of people gathered on the Boulevard in La Mesa Village on Wednesday, August 3. It was the launch of the new Boulevard Stroll to take place each first Wednesday of the month. Stores were open late, offering refreshments and special deals. There was music, dance performances and the La Mesa Drum Circle to keep people smiling and keep people exploring among the shops and restaurants.

Hundreds of people gathered on the Boulevard in La Mesa Village on Wednesday, August 3. It was the launch of the new Boulevard Stroll to take place each first Wednesday of the month. Stores were open late, offering refreshments and special deals. There was music, dance performances and the La Mesa Drum Circle to keep people smiling and keep people exploring among the shops and restaurants.

Starting at the Boulevard’s eastern end at the new Lookout at Legacy Park or the western end with Pret-a-Porter Salon and Spa, pedestrians on the Boulevard picked up their business passports. After getting stamps at eight different businesses of their choice, customers turned in their passports for a prize drawing, which include gift certificates for the many new diners and boutiques, free dance classes, haircuts, massages and much more.

Theresa Favro, owner of Amethyst Moon which she moved from downtown El Cajon to La Mesa Village, has been a prime mover in getting the Stroll off the ground. 

“As a merchant on La Mesa Boulevard I love to see community events.  These always bring new clients. I want to see La Mesa Village grow,” Favro said.

Several new businesses were not yet open, but drew the attention of many eager customers-to-be, such as the space that Cosmos Café formerly occupied. Paper lined the windows and walls of the place, promising community and coffee for the future home of Public Square. A live band just outside the storefront drew dozens of happy walkers who received free samples of freshly brewed Public Square coffee. 

“We are all excited about the changes and new businesses moving in.  One of my favorite things about La Mesa Village is the sense of community,” Favro said.

Roz Oserin, owner of Pret-a-Porter Spa and Salon, agreed. “Creating a sense of community is the first step towards having thriving businesses,” she said.

The people, the music and even a few dogs made evident that the Boulevard Stroll was one such way to keep La Mesa Village thriving. Some long-time places on the Boulevard received just as much attention as the new ones coming in. Kathy Headrick, manager of Centifonti’s Restaurant, encouraged people to stop for dinner and dessert at the restaurant. 

“I’m hoping that the idea of the Boulevard Stroll picks up. It’s a fun grassroots thing, with the businesses pitching in for marketing with social media, maps, banners, and postcards,” Headrick said. 

Another old favorite, Por Favor Restaurant, was packed inside and out with diners. At one table out on the patio, people had their passports stamped by La Mesa Conversations, a group of volunteers who hold free public programs and events on issues central to La Mesa.

At the Pret-a-Porter Salon and Spa, Oserin greeted customers, offering them a hot dog, a cold soda and tours of the salon. 

Meagan Conner, a resident of Alpine, was pleased with the samples Oserin gave her of some face cream. She was impressed, too, with the services the salon offered.

“I probably never would have come into a place like this on my own. But I’m glad I came in here tonight, and now I am likely to return,” Conner said.

By the end of the evening’s event, just after 8 p.m. Oserin gathered up some of the business passports to tally them up. 

“We had over 500 turned in tonight. That’s a success. Most of the owners were very happy we did this,” Oserin said.

The Boulevard Stroll was made possible through a collaboration of business owners. They envision future strolls to include photography contests, historic walking tours, and picnics in the park.

“It has been wonderful to get to know some of the other small business owners and realize the desire that we all have to see our downtown area as a hub of activity again,” Oserin said. 

The next Boulevard Stroll is scheduled for Sept. 7, from 4 to 8 p.m. For more information and updates, join the Boulevard Stroll conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or to speak with the La Mesa Boulevard Community Group, contact boulevardstroll@gmail.com.

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