A secluded cluster of small businesses on Tallahassee’s east side will be the site of a block party this Friday evening, Jan. 31. It’s an effort by the companies’ owners to connect with existing and future patrons.
Civil engineer-turned-web app entrepreneur William McCluskey’s Proper Channel is one of the businesses located on Industrial Plaza Drive. He said the idea of hosting a street party of sorts came from his neighbor enterprise Making Awesome.
“A lot of people know that Making Awesome used to be in Railroad Square and I am in the same building as Making Awesome. So I often sit in and help with projects. They’re an amazing organization and I was in one of their board meetings and they were commenting, ‘We used to get all of our best traffic and have all of our open houses during First Friday.’”
McCluskey said support quickly built for a similar happening for Industrial Plaza Drive.
“And sure enough just about every business we talked to said, ‘Yeah, that’s a great idea!’ Because Industrial Plaza Drive has just an incredible assortment of long-term and also brand new Tallahassee businesses. So often we hear, ‘I’ve loved you guys for so long. I didn’t know you were here.’”
Certainly the idea appealed to Julie Todd. She’s the owner of the barbershop Chopped Eastside.
“Every day I get somebody who had no idea we were here or didn’t realize Chopped was on this side of town. So we love being able to bring the cool, hip vibe that Chopped has to the east side of town. So we’re spreading the love and getting love in return.”
McCluskey said the list of firms that wraps around the drive is long and diverse.
“Good old Pedro has kept my car going for a very long time. I think they’re one of the best shops in town and that was before I had an office there. You have Gallops Karate there, Gym Force, Trans-Am Depot, you have Ology now. All these businesses and many of them are staples in Tallahassee. Guy Moore has a couple of businesses there. Garnet and Gold has been there 30 years for sure and has embroidered apparel, doing shirts for just about every business in Tallahassee. Almost everyone has a connection to this loop.”
Having a monthly party and inviting the whole community, says Julie Todd, just seemed to be a no-brainer.
“I thought, ‘Oh, this is brilliant!,’ she exclaimed. "Because the east side of town doesn’t really have anything like that. There’s no cohesive event that can bring that community together. And he’s right; it’s such a diverse group of businesses in just that plaza, that semicircle that goes around. There’s something to offer for everyone.”
If Railroad Square’s signature event is called “First Friday,” then it just made sense for the Industrial Plaza folks to call theirs “Last Friday.” Shops like Todd’s will offer all kinds of special attractions.
“We at Chopped Eastside will be staying open a little later with haircuts and our other services all 10% off on Last Friday event night. And we are also going to do Karaoke so people can come in and test their pipes.”
McClusky says there will be other music, plus food trucks and an overall festive environment.
“Most importantly, it builds that sense of community. So not only is it going to help the businesses expand and become stronger, more successful businesses, but also it’s going to let Tallahassee citizens meet each other, have something to do at least once a month and have a lot of fun.”
Industrial Plaza Drive’s first-ever “Last Friday,” this Friday, Jan. 31 in the commercial loop right across Capital Circle from Easterwood Drive.