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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.”

11 Responses to Impressions of Rochester

  1. May 19, 2012 at 10:35 pm Mittens responds:

    So the ones from bigger cities had a generally negative opinion of the city, while ones from the smaller cities liked Rochester? Makes sense I guess. We all love NYC, but would you got on vacation to a city like Erie, PA?

  2. I had the good fortune of breaking away from my inbred Rochester provincialism when I took a job at age 40 which brought me to most of the top 50 SMSA’s in the USA.

    I was siting cellular wireless facilities and often had to go up on highrise rooftops to scope rooftop antenna facilities, so I got a bird’s eye view of each city’s urbanscape. I’ve been atop of Sibley’s, the old Marine Midland office building and there’s no comparison to Boston, Pittsburg, Atlanta, NYC, SanFran, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Dallas, Philly, etc.

    As for things to do, Mid-town DC/Georgetown, Balt. Harbor, Durgin-Park, Atlanta underground, Ghiradelli Square, Portland’s Rose Garden, tea garden and hiking trails at its majestic Washington Park – http://www.bing.com/attractions/search?q=Washington+Park%2c+Portland&qzattrid=w103749&qpvt=Washington+Park+Portland&FORM=DTPATA – , Seattle’s Space Needle, NYC’s St. Mark’s Place, etc.

    One time coming home from a long site-getting trip to LA where I finally got to see every beach town from Santa Barbara to Huntington, a couple of guys in business attire were getting off the US Air from PIT to ROC and talking with each other about what there was to do in ROC.

    One of those sweet little well-dressed silver haired ladies overheard and couldn’t help saying to them, “Rochester used to be such a nice place.” I remember saying to myself, “Should I tell these guys that they should take a trip out to the Canadaguia wine trails with a rental car if they needed to wind-down from a particularly boring business meeting.

    Site seeing is truly a relative thing. ROC’s just a little less relative than other places. It does however have a 20-22 minute commute time and great suburban back yards for directing liesure-time energies. But then I got to thinking about Santa Rosa, Napa and Sonoma where there’s a winery that Ansel Adams frequented and donated exclusive images of CA wine country that are displayed in a special mezzanine gallery/atrium that overlooks the main casket aging room of the gallery.

    • May 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm Kevin responds:

      Saying that the Finger Lakes are nice but that they are no Napa or Sonoma Valley is kind of ridiculous. Napa Valley is nice but it’s no French Riviera.

  3. May 20, 2012 at 8:59 am claire responds:

    It’s not safe to walk around? Really? Sure there’s some parts of the city you wouldn’t want to explore at night time, but there’s plenty of neighborhoods within the city that are perfectly safe to walk around in. This unreasonable fear of the city bugs me so much. Usually I just see it from suburbanites commenting on the D&C. I’m surprised to see it in a man from London. Well, maybe he’s from the ‘burbs of London.

  4. May 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm Mittens responds:

    What Claire said x100

  5. May 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm Mike responds:

    I used to have a job where I traveled a lot. And frankly most mid-sized cities have the exact same issues as Rochester. There are often interesting things to do, but they aren’t always convenient or obvious. Yes compared to Boston we are lacking in pretentious restaurants, and compared to NYC or London we are boring, but so is the vast majority of the country.

    Ever been to Phoenix? When I was there years ago there was very little to do downtown after business hours if there wasn’t a Suns game. The same is true for the areas around the business hotels in all sorts of cities that are bigger and better known than Rochester (Sacramento, Salt Lake City,Providence). And those who come here from major cities and look down there noses at us for crime are being willfully ignorant. I took a wrong turn in Boston once and ended up in a neighborhood that made the crescent look like Pittsford.

  6. What about Tony D’s? I think that is 4-stars on Yelp and has TV’s. Not a ton of TV’s, but you can still watch sporting events and get a great meal! I guess I’m not sure what classifies fine dining – I would say no TV’s!

  7. May 21, 2012 at 8:42 pm d pearl responds:

    2-Vine, Nico, downtown coffee shops. Rochester is a mini-version of bigger city offerings. All the best things to do are here if you look. I’ve found that Bostonians and NYC denizens are stunned at our cost of living, especially single family home prices. I hated this place until I moved away and traveled widely and realized what we have. I suspect many others that have moved away feel a similar appreciation since there are so many out-of-state commenters on local media stories, Facebook, etc. The extra couple months of winter are brutal but my modest waterfront home would be incredibly unaffordable (to me)
    in most of the major metropolitan areas of the US

  8. June 11, 2012 at 7:44 pm Jimmy Combs responds:

    ren square helping downtown? It would have killed it

  9. May 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm Orielly responds:

    Safe parts to walk in the city? Take out the east end and Park and East Ave and tell me where those are. 19th 3rd 10th ward Nope. South Wedge some parts yes some no.. Check out the D&C’s murder locations and report back.. if that bugs you so be it.

    REN Square would have killed downtown? Really? And its alive now? The bus station is going in that location NOW 5 yrs later, The RBTL will move to the burbs and MCC is moving to Kodak. Those three will now be built for twice as much as REN would have cost. And they would have been center city vs spread out.

    Reps wanted REN.. DEMs wasted it. DEMs put Frontier stadium where it is, REPs wanted it behind Sibleys.

    REN in place today where it was supposed to go, Frontier behind Sibleys and you think DT would be better of or worse than it is today?

    Yea the rusting hole of Midtown otherwise known as DEM urban renewal is working wonders.

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