First Fridays fuel downtown Middleboro revival

Nov 4, 2023

MIDDLEBORO – Downtown Middleboro can be quiet during the evening. But on Friday, Nov. 3, a group of local businesses that usually close during the afternoon stayed open until 9 p.m. It’s part of a regular monthly event called “First Fridays,” and local business owner Sandy Cronin said the late hours are helping to bring customers to Middleboro’s downtown.

First Fridays started about two and a half years ago according to Cronin, who is a co-owner of the store Rekindled Home in downtown Middleboro. On the first Friday of every month, businesses get together and pledge to stay open until 9 p.m. 

“People who work during the day, they can’t get here during the day time, but are coming during the evening,” Cronin explained. “It’s just drawing more business in for all of us.”

The Italian Gem Cafe normally closes at 3 p.m., but John Pucillo-Dunphy and Maria Pucillo-Dunphy took advantage of the First Friday evening hours to have a date night at the Cafe without their kids. 

“Usually they’re closed this early in the night. So it’s nice to have them open for a change,” John Pucillo-Dunphy said. “It’s nice to see [downtown Middleboro] coming back.”

Cafe Milano in  celebrated First Friday by serving Mexican Street Corn and hosting a game night. Miguel Stark and Carlos Stark came by during the evening to play a game of chess. 

“We try to make it out every Friday that they do it. It’s a nice place and we try to support local businesses,” Carlos Stark said.

At the Rustic Rhino, Jamie, Irene, and Allison Ekstrom stopped by to do some shopping and were greeted by  Ann Aylward’s dog named Jake.

“Usually they’re closed before I get home from work. So this is one night a month when they’re open and you can bank on them being open,” Irene Ekstrom said.

Cronin said that the number of businesses participating in First Fridays has grown since the event started more than two years ago. That growth has been paralleled by new businesses realizing that downtown Middleboro is a good place to open up shop.

“We started [First Fridays] with seven businesses,” Cronin said. “Last year at Christmas we were at 22. And in the last few weeks four more businesses have opened in downtown Middleboro.”

Cronin said that the local business community is welcoming and supportive.

“We’re all on a first name basis. We text each other,” Cronin said. “They’ve become friends.”