ANCHORAGE - French music softly plays through the speakers of the Bubbly Mermaid as diners slurp Alaska grown oysters, sip champagne, and look over their "100 Days of Downtown Dining" game boards.
“They like it because its an original idea,” said Bubbly Mermaid owner Apollo Naff, from behind the bar. “They like the bubbly. I see two stand-alone products that are always going to be good – oysters and champagne. The pair will always go good together.”
The Bubbly Mermaid is just one of 21 businesses taking part in the Anchorage Downtown Partnership’s “100 Days of Downtown Dining.”
“It’s a lot more traffic downtown and I get new customers,” said Naff, standing next to a wide variety of bubbly. “Most of my customers are new anyway, but it definitely has helped business.”
Naff opened the doors to his D Street restaurant in August. He said "100 Days of Downtown Dining," which started back in January, has brought in new business.
“We love this restaurant – to the Bubbly Mermaid,” said one lady, performing a toast with her husband, clinking their glasses of champagne together at the bar.
"100 Days of Downtown Dining" has helped spread the blossoming business’s name.
For every participating business someone visits, you get a sticker. For six stickers the participant will receive a $10 dining certificate. After 12 stickers, that person then receives a $25 certificate. If someone is able to get a sticker from every participating downtown business they will receive two $25 dining certificates.
Friday was Anna Bryant’s third time at the Bubbly Mermaid. “We had the oysters because that is what they are known for, but I also had crab cakes and a salad.” Her late afternoon stop was one more sticker to her board.
Byrant has participated the last few years. She said the program takes her places she wouldn’t normally go – like the Whales Tale, her next stop.
“I kind of spread the wealth between a lot of dining institutions.” Bryant said; she thinks it’s a good way to support local businesses.
“I've been to Sacks, and Snow City, Humpy’s, and Orso... is that all?” Bryant later determined she has also been Simon and Seaforts.
Off of F Street, another stop – SubZero. Managers there said the three-month dining game pays off for the businesses.
“It keeps people here [and] it promotes us,” said Susynn Snyder, promotions director for SubZero and Humpy’s.
She said the diners win too. You have less than two months left to play, but business owners and participants agree that’s plenty of time to dine downtown.