This is not your twenty-somethings’ Second Street. Sure, Harrisburg’s Restaurant Row remains a haven for newly-minted but decidedly inexperienced drinkers that can lead to problems for establishment owners, their patrons and police.
But over the past year, there has been a deliberate shift on Second Street. Its character has mellowed and matured, some business owners say. And the proof is in the character of the crowds. It’s a slightly older customer base now seen in upstart — and upscale — establishments such as the Federal Taphouse, the Susquehanna Ale House and the Second Street Comedy Club.
The turning point came in early 2012. After a string of stabbings, including a fatality, the Dragonfly nightclub abruptly closed. Instead of a driving beat, the space was given over to craft beer and gourmet burgers with the summer opening of the Federal Taphouse. By all accounts, the joint venture of Corey Fogarty of Fogarty Hospitality and Judd Goodman of Brubar Inc. has been a smashing success.
Not only is business good. Business as usual has changed on Second Street as a result. Crowds are a little older. Instead of bargain beer specials, thirty- and forty-somethings are spending $7 and $8 a beer. They’re coming in for dinner, shifting peak hours to between 5 p.m. and midnight, instead of midnight to 2 a.m.