SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 6, 2012

Heard Around Town: Peabody has room for more

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — Sick and tired of all the crowds, the endless traffic jams, the waits in the office? Has it got you down?

Well, here’s some good news from Pitney Bowes Software’s Data Analytics. Peabody isn’t going to get much bigger in the coming years.

Don’t ask for details on how they know this, but they rate Peabody as one of the 50 slowest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States. The city is expected to add a mere 4,284 households over the next five years. (Even so, I wouldn’t want to have to stand behind them all while they bought scratch tickets.)

All this is part of a press release rating growth in nearly 400 cities, and its purpose is to sell the software.

So, they’re not just guessing. They’re using “dynamic and flexible tools” and “location-based data sets” and putting everything in a computer and letting it do the guessing.

Here’s the beef

That groan you hear could be Licensing Board Chairman Minas Dakos and his colleagues after getting the news that Oliveira’s Steak House on Walnut Street managed to make the news again. And it wasn’t good news. Police reported dispersing a bunch of angry people near the restaurant early Saturday morning. Minutes later, a car window was smashed on nearby Paleologos Street as a woman reported seeing a fight near the car.

In April, an event at the restaurant, inviting drinkers and nondrinkers, ended in a brawl.

Saturday’s combatants were apparently unimpressed by the police. “Many indicated they would continue in their hometowns,” according to the report. Officers were quick to notify their counterparts in Salem and Lynn of the potential trouble coming their way.

Meanwhile, the previous difficulties revealed more than a little confusion regarding who owns and operates the restaurant.

“We’ll be trying to untangle everything,” a frustrated Dakos said. “You need to make sure everything is legal.”

A previous effort to suspend the license was blocked by the courts.

Joy to the mall

It’s already Christmas at the Northshore Mall to hear general manager Mark Whiting tell it. “We were very grateful to see the level of traffic that started after midnight on Black Friday. ... And people are in a very good mood. Customers are upbeat.”

If you’ve heard about economic difficulties elsewhere — not here, Whiting says, as he ticks off a long list of new or expanding shops, from The Container Store to Brooks Brothers. Unoccupied storefronts are a problem for others, not the mall.

“We’re at a historically low level of vacancy right now. That’s something we feel really great about.”

Remembering Joyce

Joyce Spiliotis, who died last week, was known for her devotion to her constituents, reliably appearing to support them at countless functions and causes. Despite her accommodating style, it wasn’t wise to forget her Leather City roots.

In the midst of one hard-fought campaign, remembered by former Salem News reporter Stacie Galang, Spiliotis was plain-spoken. She declared that while her last name was Greek, she was born “100 percent Irish” (a Burns) and a fighter.

Don’t mess with me, she cautioned.