We like Ron Mathieu's common-sense response to the prospect of another restaurant opening near McHale's, the one Mathieu manages: "You can't eat the same thing every day."
McHale's, Rock Hill's downtown Irish pub, is crowded most nights with 20- and 30-somethings who enjoy the informal bar and pub-grub scene. But Hall Dozier hopes to lure some of those same customers to the new restaurant he plans to open across the street.
Citizen Corner, an upscale Southern eatery serving shrimp and grits and other Dixie delicacies, will occupy the first floor of the newly renovated Professional Center on Main Street that once housed First Citizens Bank. Dozier, 30, who also owns Moe's Southwest at Manchester Village, plans to open by November. He also plans a bar called The Vault in the basement of the building.
Dozier and Mathieu don't see each other as competition, which, we think, is an enlightened view. They realize that more variety in downtown restaurants is likely to result in more customers, which ultimately benefits all downtown merchants.
Dozier is banking on the idea that Citizen Corner will fill a needed niche, providing an alternative to a what he calls "mid-level, quick-casual" restaurants. We hope that translates into good food and good service.
But we also subscribe to the two restaurateurs' theory that variety is good for business. City officials and those with an emotional or economic investment in downtown Rock Hill have been waiting for the critical mass of shoppers, pedestrian traffic, shops, restaurants and services to develop that will make downtown really boom.
Let's hope Citizen Corner is one more critical piece of the puzzle.
More variety in downtown restaurants should mean better business for all.