The Bakersfield Downtown Business Association (BDBA) is expecting 2018 to be a big year for our Downtown. Along with Wednesday night's vote to allow microbreweries and distilleries in the downtown area, BDBA members says there's a lot more businesses plan to open downtown.
Jackie Saldana, lives and works downtown. She said, "I'm excited just because we need more local areas and things that stay open a little bit later, past three o'clock."
City officials and members of the BDBA say there are about a dozen new business projects in the works. Bakersfield City Councilman of Ward 2, which includes the downtown area, Andrae Gonzales said he’s expecting Downtown to speed up. And after last night's city council vote, which will allow microbreweries and micro distilleries to use the same permits as other businesses to move downtown, Councilman Gonzales expects even more businesses to move downtown.
Councilman Gonzales said, "The hope is, and the research supports, that microbreweries and micro distilleries are good magnets to draw in lots of people down into the community."
This is what city and BDBA officials tell 23ABC that's in the works now:
- A new distillery, owned by Bowen's Spirits Inc., across the street from the Padre Hotel
- A new restaurant, owned by 18 Hundred Inc., on the corner of Chester and 18th Street
- Happy Hour expanding their space to add a new restaurant next-door, along with more live music
- A new upscale bar at 1718 Chester Avenue
- A new candy shop, White Elephant Candy Store, opening at 1516 18th Street
- A new Del Taco opening on Eye Street next to the Taco Bell
- And a new coffee shop and bakery is set to replace the De Coeur Bake Shop
- Pet shop, Dogs Gone Wild, at 1316 19th Street
- A new make-your-own-salad restaurant at Eye and 20th Streets
Erick Ruiz also lives in Bakersfield. He said, “Downtown area is kind of dead. It needs to be more active. So I think more people will come downtown, especially if they open a couple of breweries with some food. There's not too much to do down here right now. So it's kind of slow out here."
Councilman Gonzales also says the city is working to make the downtown area safer and more welcoming. He said Bakersfield Police have added three extra police officers downtown, city officials are working to get better lighting, cleaner streets and more parking downtown. And locals like Saldana said she would love all of that.
"That would be awesome, I mean we have a nightlife. We have First Friday. I love going to that. And being able to walk to that safely, would be amazing and awesome. We had more lights around town, I would be walking more at night," said Saldana.