It's often not easy to pin down any single reason that leads a business to close it doors.
That's the case with Tucker's Family Farm Diner, which served up breakfast, lunch and dinner from the corner of Maplewood Avenue and Cleveland Street for four years before shutting down last night. And owner Dave Tucker deserves credit for saying he doesn't blame anyone for the decline in business at the eatery that had revived the site that long housed Uncle Moe's.
But the relentless Public Works projects that posed a variety of hurdles for customers certainly didn't help. And, with construction work tying up several streets around Gloucester today, it's important that city officials take note of the unintended, collateral impact these projects can have.
Tucker's didn't just have to grin and bear it for some two years while work crews brought — and in at least one case, left — heavy equipment right outside the restaurant. The projects — while improving neighborhood sidewalks and providing important access for the disabled — also took out a number of parking spaces that made it much more of a challenge for customers to reach Tucker's doors — and that's unfortunate.
Finding a balance between improving streets and giving existing businesses the accommodations they need is always a touchy issue. But it's one that can be addressed through effective planning, work scheduling and heeding the input from business owners. And the downside of needed city streetwork is a factor the city must consider while advancing other projects — most notably the design and any planned improvements to Washington Street.
Small businesses have enough challenges without the city throwing up new roadblocks to their success. Let's hope officials have learned a lesson or two from this episode — and don't let it be repeated.