Saturday, November 18, 2017

50 Years on Parade Street

50 years. 

That's how long Kevin Brigaman has been in the donut (doughnut?) business on Parade Street. He started on January 1, 1967 at his father's shop, Mighty Fine Donuts, at 2612 Parade Street. "I was here when I was 8 years old." Brigaman recalled on a recent Thursday evening. 

Mighty Fine Donuts is Erie's best donut shop. I mean, we have some fantastic donut and pastry options in Erie, to be sure. But in the Academy Neighborhood we have to be partial to the shop that is just a few blocks away, known throughout the region, and possibly one of our neighborhood's most un-leveraged assets.

I met with Brigaman as part of the Association's efforts to reach out to neighborhood shops and stores through our newly formed Business Outreach Committee. I was joined by longtime neighborhood resident Tom Staszewski who volunteered to be on the committee. The committee's goal is to meet with owners or managers of one business each month, and to learn as much about that business and the ways the neighborhood could possibly work to help the business thrive.

The Academy Neighborhood Association's mission statement directs us to not only "support neighborhood assets" but to also "promote appropriate economic growth" in the thirty-block area that we call home. While Mighty Fine is primarily known for its donuts, we should also remember that it is the nearest coffee shop for most of the blocks in our neighborhood, and a comfortable coffee shop where people meet and talk is considered a good building block for a strong neighborhood

Here are some brief highlights from our conversation: 

In what ways is your location beneficial? "Hey, look at the traffic!" According to this Penn Dot map of average daily traffic volume, 13,000 vehicles a day travel the stretch of Parade between East 26th and East 28th Streets.

In what ways is your location a challenge? "We have had people begging. We had to put up "No Loitering" signs. We had a problem with kids after hours, the curfew helped, because we could call the police." The City of Erie passed a 10 pm curfew for anyone 17 and under in September of 2015.

What positive changes have you seen in the neighborhood recently? "A lot of immigrants and LECOM." There are a number of immigrant owned businesses on this stretch of Parade and LECOM opened its Eastside Medical Center across the street at 2625 Parade Street in 2013. 

What else do you have besides donuts? "Lottery tickets, coffee, pop and soda, cigarettes."

What is your biggest asset? "The donuts win, hands down". 

I couldn't agree more. 

L-R: Business Outreach Committee member Tom Staszewski, Mighty Fine Owner Kevin Brigaman, and Academy Neighborhood Association President Bob Hand

The Academy Neighborhood Association's Business Outreach Committee will continue to meet with owners and managers of organizations in our neighborhood and we will continue to post information about the meetings here.