Tesla's SolarCity Riverbend site now has around 500 employees and recently started manufacturing solar roof tiles to accompany the traditional solar panels it had already been working on. This ramping up of production is also helping ramp up business for some restaurants nearby.
LombarDough's Pizza and Pasta on Hopkins Street opened about three months ago. This, right in the midst of SolarCity's growth in production. Manager Bob Garey said some of the restaurant's most consistent customers are workers from the plant.
"A lot of customers are coming from there," he said. "They generally order two to three times a week. Pickup, delivery. We have consistent customers from over there. Nothing but good reviews. So everything is doing very well."
There are other businesses popping up in the shadow of SolarCity. A Tim Horton's location opened last November across the street. Garey says a new bar is expected to open up in the neighborhood soon.
Other restaurants are also noticing SolarCity workers stopping by more often for meals. Chick-N-Pizza, Jacobi's Restaurant and Pizzeria and Lynn's Wings and Things, when reached by phone, all said there's some level of additional business from employees at the plant.
The whole neighborhood is starting to liven up, according to Garey.
"It's great to be here in the neighborhood," he said. "I'm glad that the area is picking back up a little bit. Obviously with SolarCity...It would be nice just to make it alive again."