To Amy Haines, owner of Out of the Fire Restaurant, art is essential. You can’t miss it. It fills every available space on the walls of her establishment. The canvases not only provide her visual comfort, but they are also a constant source of conversation between her and her customers.
So it should come as no surprise that when EEDC went to her asking if she would consider becoming a sponsor for the Sounds of Summer Music Series, her immediate response was, of course, “Who doesn’t love music on the streets!” To Amy art and music is a critical element to a healthy and engaged community. “It can really bring people together and start conversations, and we need more of that in the world.
As a downtown business owner, there is another reason: anything that helps bring people to our town is a no-brainer. “This is a hugely unique town,” she says. “People will come in and say, ‘I didn’t know this town existed. We decided to come and explore, and this is like a little treasure chest.’” It is this distinctiveness that was part of her decision to sponsor the musicians.
“For years, we’ve been talking about the big box stores,” Amy said. “We complain about the chain restaurants that are popping up all over the place. Okay, yes, that’s happening. We don’t have a lot of control over that. But what we do have control over is what we do down here. We’re unique, and we have to provide something unique.”
Amy believes that this commitment is all about being a part of the community. “You go out to dinner or lunch, and you see familiar faces. These people are invested in the community. Whenever I hear people talking about ordering online, I think, that’s not for me. I won’t line the pockets of someone who I don’t know. Spending money here in my town is an investment. I feel good about doing that.”
With her finger on the pulse of Easton, we wondered what ideas she had for next year’s Sound of Summer. Amy thought having a genre that would align and promote some of the other activities, such as the Chamber Music Festival and the Jazz Festival, might be a real draw.
We couldn’t leave our conversation without seeing if Amy would share what the future holds for Out of the Fire, now that, after 20 years, they’re moving from their Goldsborough location to South Washington St.
Although still in the planning stages, the plan is to open by the end of June next year. In purchasing this new location, there is a sense of security and flexibility to do some of the things she’s always wanted to. “People are always asking for two things: Do we have outdoor seating and do we have a private dining room. Well, no, we don’t right now. The new place will give us the option for what we want to do, including gardens and a physical space for a market where we can sell our breads, tapenades, mushrooms, and all kinds of things. I want it to be a place where people can come in and feel like they can unplug and relax.”
Expect to see art on the wall, maybe even a strolling musician in the garden. What won’t change is her support for the art and the artist, whatever form that will take.