At Sip Tea’s grand opening, downtowners sipped jasmine pearl green tea while looking through the windows to the turquoise terra cotta Eastern Columbia Building located across the street, and the Zenish teahouse inventory of over thirty teas is a contrast to a local 24 hour tacos stands.
It’s the tacos, white tube socks and Quinceañera dresses that have been the dominate retail culture tucked away in Broadway’s small stores, and many wonder what will happen when Bringing Back Broadway, a civic and property owner partnership designed to revitalize Broadway, takes hold.
It may be a while before anyone knows. Even with downtown’s growth, change is slow. It also brings questions about the occupying market. Smaller Latino businesses have shuttered and some say it’s due to rents being raised while others declare it’s from an overly saturated and competitive field of cheap goods.
And now the global market may prevent new downtown stores and cafes from appearing with the same frequency as seen in the last two years. It adds to the failure rate as businesses wrestle through permits, city red tape, and or the pitfalls of seeting up shop in a historical building.
For all the plans that may not get past the first stage, some like Sip Tea do open and it makes 852 South Broadway a hint of a new street level Broadway.
Not that it takes on the a downtown ethos of fun grit with wood panels mixed with green chairs and soft light. Laura Stewart is the owner and master of the teahouse feels the menu and décor would fit in the Westside as well. For downtown, it's a a small urban space that's an escape from the outside, not a extension. “This is what it would be in any community,” says Stewart while prepping for the ribbon cutting.
It also fits in with a newly envisioned downtown: domestic, urbane, and a bit frou-frou.
Yet, as you take a hot tea to go and walk past Taco Mexico, you sense there's room for both cultures.
Anyone up for a Chinese Lapsang Souchong black tea and a Nuevo León style carna asada taco? That just may be the new downtown style.