Recently, I’ve had a run of meeting out-of-town visitors. Here are some impressions of Rochester:
1. Doctor Guy – I met him a few months ago at Tapas and I would have written an entire blog about him, but he wouldn’t let me. A single man in his 50s or 60s, he comes to Rochester a few days a month to volunteer at a local health clinic. His Southern Tier practice limits Medicaid and this is his way of giving back.
Coming to Rochester is like a trip to the big city. He enjoys staying in downtown hotels and going to local restaurants and bars. Every trip is an adventure. He follows local news and thought the Renaissance Square project would have benefited downtown. He’s also interested in what will happen to the Sibley Building.
2. Boston Guy – A single man in his 30s, he’s a frequent business business traveler. I met him Thursday at Matthews East End Bar and Grill, where the Inn at Broadway told him he could find a good meal and a TV to watch the NBA playoffs. He wasn’t in the mood for bar food (even though Matthews has good bar food). He wanted to go to a fine dining establishment with a TV and a Yelp score of at least 4 stars and 15 reviews.
“It’s a tried and true formula,” he said.
Needless to say, such a place doesn’t exist in Rochester. We found a lot of 3.5-star places, the kinds of restaurants I can’t afford on a regular basis. Not good enough for him.
“Rochester is not that great,” he told me. He described his rental car breaking down at Broadway and Edmonds St. and watching five drug deals go down while he waited for a tow truck.
Of course, I had to go about changing his mind. I convinced him to try a few places and end his night with a Garbage Plate.
He got into a cab with my itinerary and I am not sure how his evening turned out.
Update: I have been good-naturedly corrected to refer to Matthews as “standard American fare.” It is one of my favorite spots.
3. London Guy – I met this guy Friday in the sauna of the Maplewood YMCA. He told me he has family in the neighborhood and hadn’t been to Rochester in a few years.
“There’s not a lot to do in Rochester. I’m too old for the nightlife. It’s not safe to walk around,” he said.
I told him about local attractions. He already knew everything. It was getting too hot in there, so my pitch time was running out.
“I want to move to the states,” he said. “To Florida.”
4. Buffalo Couple – I noticed a man and his wife reading a downtown map at Tony D’s restaurant tonight. I asked what brought them to Rochester.
They hopped a train from Buffalo to Rochester to celebrate their 24th wedding anniversary. They had no specific plan. They just wanted to check out our city.
“We thought about going to Syracuse, but Syracuse doesn’t have anything on the water,” the wife said. “Rochester does. Took us a while to find it.”
They went to the Public Market and Lilac Festival. They ate at Dinosaur for lunch. In search of more waterfront, they found themselves at Genesee Brewery and made their way to High Falls.
“There’s nothing there,” the husband said. “And um, we have Niagara Falls.”
Did they have a good time?
“Now that we found our way back to civilization,” the husband said.
“I love the waterfront here, now that we found it,” the wife said, pointing to the Corn Hill boardwalk.
“Next year’s 25th anniversary deserves something better than Rochester,” my mom said.
“Better than Rochester? I don’t know,” the husband said. “You have a nice city.”