Downtown Arcadia Improvement Association President Matt McSweeny described a litany of exciting recent improvements and events in the area surrounding Huntington Drive and First Avenue and said the best is yet to come. McSweeny, who is owner of Matt Denny’s Ale House Restaurant, 145 E. Huntington Drive, was the featured speaker in front of an attentive audience of about 55 local business people and school district officials at Thursday’s Networking Breakfast Nov. 21, a monthly Arcadia Chamber of Commerce program sponsored by Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary.
The program also included a tribute to G & K Burgers owner Spiro Vagenas as an Arcadia Business Icon, a Business Spotlight presentation by Victor Buell of Beacon Media and Arcadia Weekly, and numerous raffle prize winners.
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After offering prizes to audience members who could guess where the name Arcadia came from and how many different words the letters in the name can spell, Matt said the Downtown association follows a model where the business owners pay an annual assessment on their property taxes. These funds are then used to fund marketing programs and activities to promote Downtown Arcadia. The District is centered at Huntington Drive and First Avenue, with the boundaries of St. Joseph Street to the north, Santa Anita Avenue to the west, Second Avenue to the east and California Street to the south.
Matt indicates that there are 80-plus properties in the association and the board has been doing a lot of work behind the scenes for five years in getting the entire operation in place. The mission is basically to promote the downtown and offer business and property owners improvements and serve as a resource. Among the committees are those focused on recruiting more businesses to the area and revising zoning, and others focused on improving signage, streetscapes, parking, and the production of events. Recent events have included the dedication of the Thoroughbred Racing Walk of Champions in September, the opening of the new Arcadia Transit Plaza earlier this month, and the association is also the primary presenting sponsor of next month’s Downtown Christmas Market.
Once the Gold Line light rail line begins running in 2016 or 2017, Matt anticipates that things in the downtown will really change for the better in terms of numbers of people coming into the downtown area, which should benefit all of the businesses in the district.
Gene Glasco, President of the Arcadia Historical Society and Arcadia Chamber CEO Scott Hettrick presented an Arcadia Business Icon plaque to Vagenas of G&K Burgers, 4466 E. Live Oak Avenue, which opened in 1965 and before Spiro’s father took over in the 1970s. Glasco, who is also the City Clerk of Arcadia, offered remembrances about supplying G&K with supplies decades ago when he was in that business, and entertained the audience with anecdotes about the origin of familiar Greek expressions. Hettrick congratulated Spiro on supporting the City of Arcadia’s annual summer concert series for many years. Discount coupons offered in raffles at the concerts is what led to the Business Icon recognition, and now a far greater awareness of the eatery among the 55 attendees and readers of the Chamber web site and e-newsletter, as well as local media alerted about the tribute by the Chamber.
They have operated for decades and their burgers are must try. Spiro indicates that he is so happy to be a part of the Arcadia community.
Victor Buell (beaconmedianews.com) discussed this week’s publication featuring the winners of the annual readers survey of the Best Businesses in the San Gabriel Valley. He read off many Arcadia winners, which drew cheers from many of the owners of those businesses in the audience.
Carol Libby from the Arcadia Historical Society won the drawing to present the three-minute Business Spotlight at the next Networking Breakfast on January 15.
The monthly networking breakfast held the third Thursday of each month at the Santa Anita Golf Course has become the go to place for networking in Arcadia. Tickets to the breakfast, which runs from 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. are $20 in advance ($25 at the door) and discounted to $15 for Chamber members who pay a week ahead by the previous Friday ($20 at the door for Chamber members). Free admission for those holding a Chamber All Access Pass.