The Norman Transcript


November 10, 2006

Down on Main Street

Transcript Staff Writer

Momentum is an elusive thing. Creating upward momentum is tough and reversing downward momentum even tougher.

But one thing that's undeniable -- Norman's resurgent, historic downtown Main Street has that elusive positive momentum after a bumpy road to a renaissance that started more than a decade ago. A plethora of new businesses are opening almost weekly in an area where only a few years ago they were fleeing.

Now downtown is brimming with art galleries, old and new restaurants and other retail establishments.

The newly minted Fancy That Caf?, Bakery and Takery at 215 E. Main St. recently opened on a bustling block that also boasts Winan's Fine Chocolates and Coffee, Bison Witches Bar and Deli and The Diner just west at 207, 211 and 213 E. Main St. respectively.

Fancy That owner Robin Allen and her husband Don wanted to own their own building. And since moving the business about two weeks ago, the additional visibility and foot traffic of downtown has translated into increasing business for the restaurant that specializes in comfort food and sumptuous baked items.

"I love what's going on downtown," Allen said. "Downtown looks great. Our business has blossomed."

The Allens moved Fancy That downtown on the urging of their friends Newt and Gina Mitchell of Mitchell's Jewelry at 218 E. Main St.

The 145-seat Italian restaurant Benvenuti's opened March 15 in the charming old Interurban building at 106 W. Main St.

"Business has been really, really good," said co-owner Mohammed "Hoss" Hossain. "It is such a wonderful building. We just fell in love with it and recognized the need for an independent restaurant instead of a chain. We're glad we did it in this location."

Benvenuti's has especially become a favorite of crowds coming to shows at the historic Sooner Theatre just east across the railroad tracks.

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