Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Salem's Hidden Gems

At one time Salem, MA was known as the crowned jewel of shopping on the North Shore until malls almost turned the city into a ghost town of empty edifices. Couples, families, and friends flocked to shop, eat, watch a movie, people watch, or even to experience the metaphysical. As Salemites we were gladly inundated with crowds back then and now we welcome the excitement when thousands visit for the Halloween season. The excitement and true community spirit is evident in the present with hidden gems throughout the city; hidden gems for not only the residents, but for our visitors to feel at home.

One such location is Ziggy's which for almost 50 years has been a long standing family owned and family run establishment which opened its doors in November 1964. It is a true tribute to the word "family" with their parent's philosophy being "a family that works together stays together." To this day every Akatyzewski-Terry-Rutkowski family member as well as intimate friends are still together not only supporting each other, but supporting the multiple generations of other families who have over the years dropped by for coffee, home-made donuts and pastries, or even to pick up a pie made with love for the holidays. Most customers stop by to visit, have discussions, renew old friendships, remember nostalgic memories, recall past friends who have since passed on, and to sit like they might in their own homes knowing that Ziggy's is their home away from home and always will be.

Another home away from home is Sidelines Sportsbar and Grill which opened their doors in February of 2002. Sidelines has not only great company, but great food with Tuesday night being their well known 35 cent wing night with special sauces and all you can eat. Currently owned by Vicki MacLean who spent many of her own years on the "sidelines" as a fanatic sports lover, watching her son Shawn play sports, and as a waitress for another business where she was the employee working long hours, Vicki loved her long standing regular customers and it was the patrons dedication that brought Vicki her immediate customers when she first opened her own business eventually to be followed by new customers, Salem residents, and tourists who are made to feel both individual, cared about, and special. It is that specialness which created the environment within Sidelines as a place where everyone does know your name giving to our city and its customers their own 'Cheers.'

Another longtime place that has called Salem, MA home is Witch Tee's for almost 20 years with a new extension store along the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall located in the old Lally's Shoe Store; a building built in 1858. Joan Brennan's goal was to find a location for her business that for her was reasonably priced so she could pass reasonably priced merchandise onto her customers. It is a goal that Joan has achieved by offering T-shirts, sweatshirts, accessories, and even custom made items to her patrons at fantastic prices. And Joan's creativity gives to anyone passing by the storefront visual eye candy with window displays that have already won for Witch Tee's the "Viewer Choice Award" from the Chamber of Commerce.

Another choice that Salem offers to its residents and its visitors is a taste of the metaphysical. Wiccans have always been a strong part of our community and Wiccans have always been important members of our city whose contributions extend far beyond the the historical witchcraft hysteria. Like many religions there are a few who dwell on their own personal gains instead of the majority who dwell on the spiritual growth of themselves, their clientele, and our city. Rick Watson is in the majority who as a 5th generation Salemite experienced as a young boy the pull towards the Wiccan religion enjoyed by our pagan ancestors and he also experienced the influence of his own ancestors who gave to their children and their children's children the gifts of visions, tea leaf reading, metaphysical phenomena, and always to listen and to hear your inner intuition. Rick's mother reads tea leafs taught by her great grandmother which has been a part of their family heritage. Rick, as a Reverend in the Strega Tradition with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
has performed marriages and gives to several charities to retain the positive within our community and within each other. Kindness and caring do guide Rick in both the physical realm and the spiritual realm; not only transcending what a true Wiccan is, but what we all should be.

Kindness is reflected within Ziggy's, Sidelines, Witch Tee's, and Rick Watson. A reflection of what Salem always was and what Salem is. A reflection that is evident in the sponsorship by all these people for local organizations through donations, fundraisers, or any endeavor that may benefit not only their clients, but the community as a whole; a community that says welcome to Salem - a place where everyone knows your name - a place where you can call home both as a resident and as a visitor - a place where hidden gems adorn our city.

Ziggy's and Sons Donuts 2 Essex Street
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 744-9605

Sidelines Sportsbar and Grill 105 Canal Street
Salem, MA 01970-4649
(978) 745-5870

Witch Tee's Museum Place Mall Suite 127 Salem, Mass. and 173 Essex Street.
Salem, MA 01970-3700(978) 740-0900

Rick Watson Spiritual Guidance/Physic Readings
Located at Bewitched
180 Essex Street
Salem, MA 01970-3736
(978) 744-9904

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  1. While visiting my husband's favorite store on Essex Street, "The Broom Closet" I had the opportunity to meet Rick Watson and had an immediate connection with him.
    when my young son had asked Rick a question about his future Rick took him to Bewitched, read him and never charged me!
    While I was in awe with his giving and kindness he floored me even more by saying that I am engulfed with Lilacs and Saphires: my mom's favorite flower and gem--- she had recently passed away...words cannot convey how happy he had made me with the knowledge that she IS still with me.
    Your article spoke of Gems in Salem and I have to say that Rick is exactly what you had written. He is kind, giving, and very passionate about his craft!

    Although I had been a "tourist" in the shadows of the people who reside in Salem, I had witnessed his kindness and generosity first hand in his approach to kids, tourists [like myself] and the many neighbors he calls 'friends'.

  2. Patricia A. Rutkowski...Tammy,,thank you so much for a wonderful article! Many new faces due to your article and it brought tears to my eyes when it was read aloud to me by a customer!! Job well done,,love you lots!!!