EDITORIAL: Good news, and a good bite, go hand-in-hand

Sep. 05, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Some recent, mouth-watering announcements are sure to delight local foodies — not to mention anyone who wants to see Sanford thrive.

The area’s restaurant scene has suffered some well-publicized setbacks in recent years. One example is Umami Asian Bistro, which was devastated by the April 2011 tornado and ultimately relocated to Burlington. The Steele Street Coffee and Wine Bar was shuttered after four years downtown last spring, and Tony’s Seafood closed its doors in late 2011 after serving the community for about three decades — citing economic woes.

All were significant losses. But as The Herald has reported, some gastronomic hope is on the horizon.

Fans of Umami chef Roger Pelayo don’t have to leave the area to find his sushi, which is now being carried at select Piggly Wiggly stores.

Also, the former Tony’s building on Horner Boulevard has undergone a dramatic transformation in a bid to ignite new interest in the space.

And that’s to say nothing of the new eateries that are pleasing palates within Sanford’s borders and beyond — and others set to open soon. Monifa’s Southern Food and Catering will mark its Jonesboro debut on Friday with an 11 a.m. ribbon cutting. Just south of Tramway Road, in the building once occupied by Jackson Bros., Allen and Son BBQ is planning to move in later this month.

In other activity, the former Carli’s South Bar and Grill location on Westover Drive will soon house Mo’s BBQ. And fast-food fans can celebrate the impending opening of a new Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits at Tramway Road and U.S. 1 and a Zaxby’s on Highway 87 near Walmart.

Elsewhere in Sanford, sites such as the Red Sofa Bistro and Bar on Steele Street and the Brick City Oyster Bar and Steakhouse on South Horner Boulevard have made appetizing additions to the city’s food selections.

Whether someone is looking for a casual experience over a pulled pork sandwich, or an upscale meal paired with the perfect wine, it’s safe to say that Sanford’s established favorites and promising newcomers have it covered.

For any community, the value of its restaurants is as much in what they represent as what they serve. Well-patronized dining establishments, in some measure, denote health and vitality. As any economic development expert will attest, a strong complement of gathering places to eat, shop and play not only boosts morale and quality of life for residents, but also draws outsiders and increases economic well being.

So even beyond the obvious — more places to meet, greet and eat without having to fill up the gas tank — these developments are most welcome news.