Cafe Society

The restaurants are restless at Writer Square

Writer Square has always been a great place for a nice, Old World-style meal. Whether your bistro of choice is Red Square, Cafe Colore, Crepes 'n Crepes or one of the other eateries nestled into the nooks of this pedestrian shopping center downtown, the evocative aromas of garlic and cigar tobacco and the profusion of gas lamps and flowers has always been guaranteed to transport diners to another world.

These days, however, Writer Square isn't as accommodating to foodies as it used to be. An ambitious refurbishment project undertaken by the block's new owners has mired the area in construction, and at least one restaurant says its summer sales are down 40 to 60 percent. Even more worrisome to some of the eateries, though, is what the place will look like when all is said and done. Will it still be a perfect place to pretend you're supping in Sienna -- or will it feel more like you're feasting in FlatIrons Crossing? To find out what the fuss is about, check out this week's cover story, "Writer's Block."