It's not the same place it used to be for years and years since I moved here in the late 80's. However, anybody who decides to go downtown nowadays can get a sense and feel of the "new vibe" as soon as you approached the new gigantic parking structure next to the Bowling Green "Hot Rods" minor league baseball ballpark. I have been seeing the progress of this particular parking structure these last couple of years and I thought, "Well, it's just another parking structure". But I supposed it never peaked my interest until the Hitcents Park Plaza or Mariah's Restaurant's new location http://www.mariahs.com/ came into fruition in the last year or so with five new restaurants currently bunched in together at the bottom of the parking structure on the plaza level next to the ballpark. The new restaurants include the new Mariah's, Brick & Basil Pizzeria, Asia Cafe, The Holinos Mexican Restaurant and the 643 Sports Bar. When I found this out, of course, then I became intrigued.
But then of course, the devil's advocate side of me has had this curious thought lingering in the back of my mind. I'm sure as taxpayers of Bowling Green and Warren County, we will all help pay for the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) which includes the building of two new parking structures (Downtown and Western Kentucky University) and several buildings and projects in one form or fashion that I have seen being built in the downtown area lately. Too many for me to recall right now. According to my mortgage company, I know that my city taxes are going up a little next year . I'm not complaining, I'm just saying. But the county taxes, may not have not have anything to do with the TIF and the downtown redevelopment. I don't know for sure or how all of this is working out is all I am saying. But on the other hand, I do know that there are people here who are investing tons of their own money also into these private ventures which is a good thing for Downtown Bowling Green and our local economy.
Anyway, back to the Hitcents Park Plaza. The old, Mariah's in the old historic home closed down not long ago. Former owner, Rick Kelley, sold out to the Mills family (Hitcents), because of some financial troubles that he had been involved in these last couple of years. But Kelley has stayed on as an adviser and consultant to the restaurant which is a good thing I think. Also, Jodi Fleming, the manager of Mariah's is still there as well as some of the servers and staff. Especially, Bryan Graves, head bartender and server is still there. He's a great guy and knows how to take care of his customers really well. I understand that he is in charge or helping out with arranging entertainment that is taking place in the 643 Sports Bar and also for bands that we be performing on the Plaza area this Summer.
All and all, the new Mariah's is a smash hit in my opinion. This new restaurant is beautiful inside especially the bar area, our usual hangout since Patty and I have been regulars there these last couple of years. The menu is basically the same as the old Mariah's. There appears to be a little variation of menu item choices and maybe some price changes a little. With our drinks, Patty and I ordered the "Say Cheeseburger" and side two salads. The new "Say Cheeseburger" has been greatly upgraded and much improved. They were very delicious! The bar area has even added several new selections of wines and beers to it's stock too. However, the biggest difference of the new Mariah's in my opinion, is how grand and beautiful the new restaurant is with lots of glass, dark stained wood and very high ceilings. There's tons of room and space for everyone. Being brand new, the new Mariah's is super clean, charming and elegant too. But I would say, even years down the road, the new Mariah's will serve its customers well in its new location. And with its new location and new owners, I would say that they will most likely maintain the legacy and reputation of Mariah's, keeping it alive and well for Bowling Green and anyone who walks through their doors. It's worth a trip to Downtown Bowling Green, even if you decide not to park in the parking structure. But please do because it's free in you are dining at one of the Hitcents Park Plaza restaurants!