Biz Leaders in Hyde and Jackson Squares Aim to Work Together

Michel Soltani, center, owner of the Brendan Behan Pub, makes a point during a meeting of Hyde and Jackson Square business owners at The Haven on May 13, 2015.

Chris Helms, reproduced by courtesy of arrangement with El Mundo.

Michel Soltani, center, owner of the Brendan Behan Pub, makes a point during a meeting of Hyde and Jackson Square business owners at The Haven on May 13, 2015.

[Editor’s note: This report is being reproduced in English by kind arrangement with El Mundo Newspaper, where it originally appeared.]

Business owners in two of Boston’s most Latino neighborhoods, Hyde and Jackson squares in Jamaica Plain, aim to work together to bring in more customers.

In two recent sessions hosted by Hyde Jackson Square Main Street and the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corp., a total of more than 30 business owners strategized on how to improve the business environment.

Business owners at the first meeting, held May 13 at the Julia Martin House, focused on safety, parking and cleanliness, said Rafael Mejia, owner of Evelyn’s Market and president of the Hyde Jackson Square Merchants Association.

Mejia said business owners want to give people more reasons to go into Hyde and Jackson squares.

“A lot of people don’t know what’s in the neighborhood,” Mejia said. “It’s a little street but there’s a lot of businesses.”

About 20 business owners gathered that evening at The Haven, a Scottish pub in Hyde Square.

“What can we do together to improve the business environment on the street?” asked Gerald Robbins, executive director of Hyde Jackson Square Main Street. “One of the most powerful things that people don’t talk about is support and networking.”

Robbins said his organization aims to help provide that support and network in a bilingual way. He cites his fellow Main Street organization, Egleston Square Main Street, as a model of how a business group can include business owners whether their first language is Spanish or English.

‘Winter Was Really Tough’

When the group turned to specific issues, parking for deliveries and for their customers stood out.

“Winter was really tough for all the businesses,” said Myra Vargas of J&P Cleaners.

Many of the business owners in the room nodded their heads at Vargas’ story of police giving her delivery van a $75 ticket even though it had stopped only briefly to unload in front of their new location in Jackson Square.

Michel Soltani, owner of the Brendan Behan Pub, echoed those concerns.

“You park and boom! They get you,” he said.

‘Not Always The Best Coordination’

Damaris Pimentel, owner of Ultra Beauty Salon, said she’s so busy with her own business, she has little time to get to know her fellow business owners.

“How can this neighborhood embrace a new business when it comes in?” said Pimentel, who also recommended small businesses pool their resources to do marketing.

“It becomes less expensive when we market together,” she said.

Business owners seemed to agree that better coordination among the various business groups working in Jamaica Plain is needed.

“Jamaica Plain is the best neighborhood because it has everything,” said David Warner, co-owner of City Feed and Supply. “But there’s not always the best coordination between organizations.”

A relatively new organization, JP Local First, aims to help the various business groups work together. They have two part-time employees who work to promote home-grown neighborhood businesses.

Alison Moronta, business development director for the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Association, shares a smile with Jason Waddleton, owner of The Haven, which hosted a meeting of Hyde and Jackson Square business owners on May 13, 2015.

Chris Helms, reproduced by courtesy of arrangement with El Mundo.

Alison Moronta, business development director for the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Association, shares a smile with Jason Waddleton, owner of The Haven, which hosted a meeting of Hyde and Jackson Square business owners on May 13, 2015.

[Nota: Véase el artículo en español en el sitio Web de El Mundo Boston. El periódico también está disponible en bodegas de Jamaica Plain y otros barrios de Boston.]