EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 13, 2013

High Street businesses express hope despite loss of Converse

NORTH ANDOVER – When a company boasting 400 employees announces it’s leaving town, there’s bound to be an impact, especially for coffee shops and restaurants frequented by those workers.

Kathy Santoro, owner of the Good Day Cafe at 19 High St., faces that challenge. The corporate headquarters of Converse, the famed athletic shoe maker that’s located across the street, announced last week it’s moving to Boston.

Many Converse workers go to the Good Day Cafe for breakfast and lunch. Santoro said they contribute a “fair amount of revenue.” Santoro, however, said she’s going to be ready for the loss of those customers.

“You have to have sustainability,” said Santoro, a pharmacist by profession who opened the Good Day Cafe two years ago. She said she’s expanding her catering operation and offering an online store that sells salad dressing, soups, coffee and coffee mugs.

“It will affect it to some degree,” Jaime Faria, owner of Jaime’s Restaurant at 25 High St., said when asked if Conserves’ departure will hurt his business. He’s confident, he said, that he has a “good base of town people” who will keep the restaurant going.

Jaime’s opens at 11 a.m. each day, so it doesn’t rely on the breakfast crowd. Converse employees often go to Jaime’s for a beer and a sandwich after work, Faria said.

“They’re nice people. I’m going to miss them,” he said of the Converse employees.

He’s considering, however, offering business breakfasts as a way to bolster revenue, he said.

Selectman Donald Stewart and others have predicted the loss of Converse would “devastate” Good Day Cafe and Jaime’s.

“It’s not going to devastate us,” Faria said. Like his neighbor Santoro, he said a business owner needs to be flexible and ready to offer new services.

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