Sunday, June 23, 2024

East Cambridge Business Association president Carl Fantasia of the New Deal Fish Market, Maria Gomes of East Cambridge Savings Bank and Chris Kosinski of the East Side Bar & Grille attend the association’s first evening networking event Feb. 25 at the Grille.

With a neighbors group presenting a masterful plan for Lechmere Square and a new business association hosting its first evening networking event, both in the past week, it may be time for East Cambridge to cast off its underdog status.

“Sure, we don’t get as much fanfare as some of our other squares, but East Cambridge can certainly match the character and cuisine of any other shopping experience that Cambridge has to offer,” is how the East Cambridge Business Association greets visitors to its Web site — the creation of which is another benchmark reached since the formation of the association early this year. (Official birth date: Jan. 12.)

The evening networking event, sponsored by East Cambridge Savings Bank, was held Feb. 25 at East Side Bar & Grille and drew some 40 people, said Carl Fantasia, owner of the New Deal Fish Market and president of the association.

“It’s a good start, and we hope to expand upon it as we grow,” said Paul Ferreira, of member business Cambridge Printing Co., noting efforts dating back to Thanksgiving to help the less fortunate. Even before the association was official, members joined forces to donate food and toys during the holidays.

The association lists 19 members, including restaurants for which the area is famed — Portugalia Restaurante, Atwoods Tavern and Courtside Food & Spirits, a draw for karaoke and trivia enthusiasts. The plan for development in Lechmere unveiled Monday promises in the long term to swell the association’s ranks, but Fantasia doesn’t want to wait; he invites people looking for more information about the association to visit the Web site or come to its next meeting, March 16 at the East Cambridge Savings Bank office. A Public Works representative is scheduled to talk about plans for First Street construction and the creation of additional parking, which could benefit businesses there.

“This is one of the best places to live, work and shop,” Fantasia said. “East Cambridge has much to offer, judging by the large number of residents and nonresidents that patronize our local businesses.”