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Upward Trend Sets Up Downtown Wilkes-Barre to Rebound

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE CO. (WOLF) — “Gradually over the past six months, we have seen some of the businesses in the area, starting to bring their workers back” says Dan Shission of Abide Coffeehouse. 

Dan Shission has been a co-owner of Abide Coffeehouse in Downtown Wilkes-Barre for about a year now.

An uptick of workers returning to the office in a hybrid model as well as the addition of events such as Sunsets of Main or Rocking the River, have given the coffee shop the ability to serve more customers.

“It has been a really though few years for people, so we saw this as an opportunity to bring people out, bring them together, and get them reacclimated with friends and family” Shission explained.

Shission has been working in the downtown area for over a decade and says lately he has noticed a positive change regarding people visiting the area.

“Day after day I see growth continuing in the city” Shission says. 

Someone who has been on the front lines of the ups and downs of the city is Larry Newman, Executive Director of the Diamond City Partnership.

Although there has been gradual improvement, Newman says that it is a positive step in the right direction.

“What we are seeing is that more and more employers are concluding that a hybrid strategy is the correct path moving forward” Newman explained. 

Newman says that his data from August of 2023 shows that the number of employees visiting downtown is 58% of the figure pre-pandemic. Last year, that figure was 52%.

The DCP believes that the key to recovering Downtown Wilkes-Barre is to reposition downtown as an appealing destination.

“Our goal is to create a place that is a neighborhood where you go because you want to be there” Newman says. 

Newman says that they are also looking into creating a robust storefront community, that is not entirely dependent on office workers and can draw everyone to the city.