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BID hopes MassValuePass program will attract patrons

Date: 2/24/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- The Springfield Business Improvement District (BID) is taking advantage of a new state program to assist downtown restaurants.

And Mayor Domenic Sarno will be taking steps next week to eliminate an attraction to the city's entertainment district that has contributed to recent criminal incidents.

Now through March 31 the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT) will offer the MassValuePass program. Once downloaded from the MOTT Web site,, consumers can use the pass for discounts at restaurants, hotels and motels and attractions throughout the state.

To encourage downtown restaurants to participate in the program the BID will be paying for the discounts they offer.

Mary Kay Wydra, the president of the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (GSCVB), called the marketing effort a "groundbreaking winter savings program."

The participating restaurants and the discounts they offer are:

Cafe Lebanon: 25 percent off food at the Springfield location only and for dine-in only; not to be combined with other offers

Champions Sports bar: 25 percent off lunch or dinner

Currents Restaurant & Bar at the Marriot Hotel: 25 percent off of food and lodging

Dillweedz Cafe : 25 percent off any pannini sandwich or free small organic coffee with the purchase of a breakfast sandwich; one coupon per person

Empire Pizza: 25 percent off food purchase

JT's Sports Pub: half price on appetizers or half price on a small one topping pizza

McCaffrey's Public House: buy one dinner get half-off on second dinner or buy one appetizer, get half-off on second appetizer

Onyx Fusion Bar & Restaurant: 25 percent off from Sunday through Thursday

Pazzo Ristorante: buy one dinner, get half-off second dinner

Samuel's: 25 percent off food purchase (excludes alcohol)

Sitar Restaurant: 25 percent off dine-in only

Wydra said the GSCVB will follow up with its own discount program in April.

Peter Pappas, co-owner of Onyx, said, "This program is great. It brings value to people."

Sarno will have a hearing on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. in Room 220 of City Hall on the status of bars hosting nights in which young people ages 18 through 21 can attend, although they can't be served.

"I don't think they [the 18-21 nights] are good for business," he said.

Noting the success of the Stearns Square concerts and the Dine-Around events, Sarno said, "You can have 10,000 good things happening, but all it takes is one incident.You can't put a price on word of mouth."

Just a few doors up Worthington Street, there was a shooting recently at the Club 1800 at which several people who were denied admission shot into the club through its door, wounding two young women.

In the short term, Sarno said he wants to keep the club quarter safe but in the long term he is hoping to "redefine" the area by adding more restaurants to the mix of businesses.

The announcement of the program was made at Izzo's Ristorante, the newest addition to the city's entertainment district at 254 Worthington St. Owner Pasquale Izzo said the restaurant will open in about 35 days and will be a family restaurant with an Italian and pub food menu.