"A thriving hospitality industry is a really healthy sign for the whole town."
The Forge Pizzeria's Tim Matthews said the development of Armstrong Street North into a "beating heart" of Ballarat is something the city should be proud of.
Photos from 2007 and 2009 show a very different street to the dining and retail strip of today - while some businesses, like the beloved 21 Arms, have closed, others have opened to bring new flavours and experiences to Ballarat.
There's still growing pains, however, and retailers are honest about this.
The centre median parking was removed in a streetscape update about three years ago, while the loss of the multi-level car park near the Ballarat Library has impacted trading, but there's hopes the 1000 new employees at Ballarat's GovHub will bring even more foot traffic.
Woolshed Clothing's Danielle Hunter, who took over the business from her mother, is optimistic that things will improve.
"It is a lot more people, and once GovHub's built, that's going to increase," she said.
"It's gotten busier, I feel, there's a lot more foot traffic, but obviously the parking issue is huge for us."
Similarly, her neighbour Katherine Knott, at the Acorn and Oak Apothecary, who is celebrating her first year since she opened this week, said the main thing to improve is parking in the area.
"I've been here 12 months and it's already changed," she said, adding more consultation would be appreciated.
City of Ballarat's infrastructure and environment director Terry Demeo said the council is continuing to work with the state government on the parking issue - 1000 new car parks were promised for Ballarat in the state election.
"This (work) includes improvement to on-street parking opportunities and off-street options, with the Creswick Road car park being the largest of these off-street options to be delivered," he said in a statement.
Similarly, there were concerns about electricity last month, but Mr Demeo said the supply would be upgraded.
"The City of Ballarat is aware of recent power constraints which are causing concern to some businesses," he said.
"It is understood Powercor will be undertaking these works as soon as possible - understanding is requested from both traders and patrons who may be temporarily impacted by these short term works."
Mr Matthews, who recently opened another business on the street, said it was "positive" to hear about the power upgrades.
"Powercor have been really positive and proactive, they've communicated with us what's happening and what they need to do - upgrades don't happen overnight, and it takes a bit of planning," he said.
They seem to have a really responded and I believe some power upgrades are in progress."
His pizza shop opened in 2012, taking over CV Jones Antiques - "you can still see the signs at the Forge, we decided to honour that name and the history of the building," he said.
"You have to pay respect to some of the restaurants who have been there for a long time, Chat for Tea, Campana's - their offerings have changed over the years, that's a welcome change for the community.
"When we opened there, some of what we consider the best restaurants in town weren't even open.
"The business owners deserve a lot of credit for taking on that risk, and I'm really grateful the Ballarat community has embraced that."
New and expanding businesses opening on the street is testament to that, as well as the broader precinct around it - and there'll be more interesting ideas to come.
Council's acting development and planning director James Guy agreed with Mr Matthews, adding the upgraded streetscape had encouraged food vendors to think about al fresco dining.
"It is great to see the ongoing re-investment in the precinct by businesses and property owners who have the confidence to continue improving the offering and experience of the area," he said in a statement.
"(The) Armstrong Street North precinct is a great example of Council and business working together to create the vibrant and active streets that are requested and enjoyed by residents and visitors alike."
For a city with a reputation for being freezing cold, having a thriving al fresco dining strip is an encouraging sign.
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