The news that Mangia, a casual Italian restaurant on Route 3 in the Town of Plattsburgh, is suddenly closed probably struck some people as a sign that the North Country economy is teetering between bare survival and the brink of collapse. Actually, it is no such thing.
Mangia filled a niche in the Plattsburgh-area restaurant tapestry. As with many businesses of many types, though, it was likely as much a victim of competition as a poor economy. Area residents could name a number of eateries of its ilk, beginning, of course, with Arnie’s on Margaret Street. Arnie’s is the grandfather of all Italian restaurants in the area, along with Mickey’s — though Arnie’s alone has been owned by the same person for half a century.
In fact, Arnie’s stands as testament that, if a business provides what customers want, the tides of economy and competition can be successfully ridden.
Despite what is regarded as a grim economy the past four years, many restaurants have opened in that time, betokening the confidence entrepreneurs have in the local customer base.
The owner of Mangia knows something about the restaurant business, and he vows to open a new “concept.” He is David White, who also owns, among other businesses, the Butcher Block in Plattsburgh and Albany. That has been another bellwether establishment around here for many years.
The public tends to overreact to any closure of a business, fearing perhaps that it portends trouble for all of us. This has not proven to be true at all.
The North Country’s expert on business activity, North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas, has always viewed closings as part of the evolution of a community’s business fabric. Businesses come and, for a variety of different reasons, go.
Depending on how long you’ve lived in the North Country, take a moment to think back to some of the businesses you remember from long ago that are no longer here. Plattsburgh’s Margaret Street 50 years ago was a hub of commercial activity with scores of stores offering shoppers an enormous range of products.
The mall — evolution — replaced it, though it emphatically did not kill it. Downtown evolved into a different kind of business center as the mall itself evolved. Many, many stores have opened and closed there since its inception in the early 1970s.
To the employees and devoted customers of Mangia, we offer sympathy and hope for new horizons.
But, for those casually observing, don’t view it as anything more than the normal progression of the business community. That space on that prime commercial strip will eventually be filled.