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Nailing it on Union Street


I don’t know what the beer will be like and ditto for the burgers. But, after taking a walk by at dusk one evening last week, I do know one very important thing about Moby Dick Brewing, Co.: They nailed the design.

That’s no small thing in the life and death of municipalities. Good design doesn’t just reflect back on the business but on the street and entire city. And Moby Dick Brewing does that in a beautiful way.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

A lonely corner at Union and S. Water Street is now bathed in light – a beacon not unlike a lighthouse. Generous luminosity inside and, critically, outside announces the arrival of this second brewpub in our city. Moby Dick Brewing glows on lower Union Street and fulfills Hemingway’s fine promise of “A Clean Well-Lighted Place.” (With all due respect to that other icon of American letters, Mr. Melville.)

Then, there are the windows. Again, Moby Dick Brewing is generous. Glass stretches from pavement to ceiling and wraps around the corner from Union to S. Water Street. It lets the light spill out and puts eyes on the street. In the warmer months, it’s easy to envision that a vigorous street scene will develop through these windows onto the sidewalk. This corner is lonely no longer.

Hitting hyper-drive

I wrote awhile back that downtown New Bedford was about to hit hyperdrive. Any Star Wars fan will tell you, that’s impossible without achieving light speed. Moby Dick Brewing, Co. officially opens this week and represents the second brewpub in New Bedford.

The Atlantic magazine notes in this article that a city that boasts one brewpub usually means it’s an area on the upswing. Add Moby Dick Brewing with Greasy Luck, the brewpub which opened late in 2016, along with the phenomenal rise of small businesses and eateries of every sort downtown, and it’s a safe calculation that New Bedford is a city hitting a new plateau.

Which is all the more reason to congratulate Moby Dick Brewing on the terrific job they’ve done renovating their new space. Again, it’s not only the pub they have made right but an entire block and street. Now, they’ve set a standard and example that should be followed here and elsewhere in New Bedford.

Choosing good design

Moby Dick Brewing, Co. at the corner of Union and S. Water Streets, New Bedford, MA.

Moby Dick Brewing, Co. at the corner of Union and S. Water Streets, New Bedford, MA.

It’s a particularly good lesson to learn right now as a large swath of Union Street is under design review as part of the Purchase-Union Innovation District project. You can learn more about that – and better yet, participate – at the link.

Over the course of its long history, New Bedford has seen some great yet some awful design choices both public and private. I’m certain we all have our “favorite” bugaboos. But it’s useful to remember that in recent years, there have been better public choices made and they, too, are collectively creating a critical mass that’s now being reflected in the private sector.

Graceful Fort Rodman. Riverside Park. The dynamic lower Acushnet Avenue streetscape. The fixes to the “Octopus” traffic tangle and the Rte. 18-to-waterfront make-over. And especially, the stunning Harborwalk and Covewalk atop the hurricane barriers. In all these places and more, New Bedford is raising the bar higher.

It’s nice to see businesses following suit. So, cheers to Moby Dick Brewing, Co. for doing their share on Union Street. I’m looking forward to a pint (or two) when they officially open on Thursday, March 16 this week. See you there; look for the bright lights on lower Union Street.

Steven Froias