The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: Some big-city ideas for little ol' Nashua

Back in late 2016, I wrote about the concept of rooftop dining in downtown Nashua, and people seemed excited about the idea of sipping a cocktail or two in the open air, high above the Gate City surrounded by a sparkling view of our little skyline.

The concept is so big-city cool, but is it too urban-grand for our small city?

I asked around, and it seems like many Nashuans are onboard with rooftop socializing, including city officials like Paul Shea, executive director of Nashua’s Great American Downtown.

“Generally, we have a good number of locations downtown that might lend well to that amenity,” Shea said. “I would like to see more outdoor dining options downtown in the years ahead, but would absolutely love to see rooftop dining come about as we head toward 2020.”

The calendar says 2019 is not far off, so could something be in the works?

After all, it wouldn’t have to be located on just Main Street. You mean to tell me that for all the new establishments that seem to pop up along Daniel Webster Highway in the south end, none of these business owners have dreamed about proposing rooftop dining?

I am certainly not the most brilliant thinker, but I am intelligent enough to know that rooftop dining can be featured in new architectural designs. Some savvy developer out there has the money to do it, and locating a rooftop restaurant not far from the Massachusetts border could be a win for the local economy.

Another picturesque area for rooftop socializing lies west in the old Millyard, often described as “the cradle of Nashua’s historic industrial economy.” The potential of this district is rich, and the new Broad Street Parkway has only boosted its charming setting along the Nashua River and the Millyard’s striking 19th-century architecture.

The district has invested in technology workspaces for startups, artists’ studios, commercial businesses and the like. But why not create rooftop dining there?

Granted, older structures weren’t built to support the idea of rooftop venues. Brian McCarthy, president of the Board of Aldermen, explained that to me in 2016, saying that most buildings were designed to place only heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems on the roof because of the cheaper cost and the annoying noises they make.

Still, rooftop dining can be enjoyed if you don’t mind an imperfect view, McCarthy said, pointing to Bar Louie at Patriot Place in Foxborough, Mass. The spot features a rooftop dining area where “the view from the roof is generally of other buildings’ mechanical systems.”

That’s all right, Mr. McCarthy. That glass of wine or bottle of beer would still taste delicious at a higher elevation despite some minor aesthetic interference. And he happens to be onboard.

I have another big-city idea.

Some of you have probably ridden the Roosevelt Island Tramway in New York City located Midtown at 59th Street and Second Avenue. The 250-foot high tramway sits above the East River and connects Roosevelt Island to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It’s the most scenic, 4-minute, aerial urban trip I’ve ever taken.

It would be incredible if our city could one day build an aerial tram in the Millyard near the old smokestack. It would provide a stunning view of the city along the river, enhance our iconic Millyard history and draw more tourists to Nashua.

I’m just not sure where the drop-off would be.

Any ideas?

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at