Thursday, April 20, 2017

A tale of one storefront

Something curious is happening on Thayer St in Providence.

Around the end of last year, Au Bon Pain went out of business. Not the whole company, just the Thayer St. location. I wasn't sure why, although I had my theories. Someone who worked at another location in Providence said the landlord had raised the rent and they just didn't think it was worth paying. This is a thing that happens.

The storefront stayed empty for a few weeks, gathering graffiti. Then the windows were covered in black paint and promotional material for By Chloe. By Chloe is a vegan restaurant chain headquartered in New York. Me? Not a vegan. I don't eat that much meat, but I don't have any great ambition of cutting it out completely, and dairy is life to me. But it seemed like this could be a good way to make sure commerce continues to flow in that spot. Also I suspected that if ABP had left because of the rent the landlord had these other tenants lined up ahead of time.

But much time has passed since then. By Chloe hasn't opened for business. In fact, I haven't seen construction people or outfitters at work on the place either. It's just sort of been taking up space. So have the new renters had second thoughts about moving in? Or did they only secure the spot so they could perform Satanic rituals in the wee hours of morning?


susan said...

Leases for commercial properties are generally longer than those for apartments with 5-10 years being usual. Once one of those end the tendency nowadays is for the landlord to raise the rental price a lot - often enough for the simple reason their taxes have gone up, but also because they see an area like Thayer St. being a valuable address. So it's both need and greed. I doubt the owner of the building had a new tenant lined up and this restaurant might be having licencing problems or goodness knows what. Maybe they found something nasty in there like a dead cow (vegans can be funny about such things).

We've noticed similar things around here with storefront businesses. The weirdest one, though, is a newly built condo that's both half empty and non quite finished either - particle board fronts on half the balconies, for instance.

I agree with you about veganism. We don't eat much meat either, but I really don't like soy or chia.. and I'd hate going without cheese or yogurt or milk on my cereal.

Ben said...

That's often a shortsighted way of managing your property, though. If you raise your rent to a higher rate than the tenant is willing to pay and the site remains vacant for any length of time what you've effectively done is "raise" it to zero. So I don't know, maybe it's a pride thing. The licensing must be quite the hangup, maybe because the franchise hasn't opened in this area before. A cow would be a big thing for the previous tenants to leave behind. Careless!

Huh. That condo does not sound as inviting as the developers no doubt hoped it would be. It sounds like there might be some internal dissension among their ranks.

Yeah, they say that soy is good for you, but I just can't get into it. Tolerable in small doses. Only the truly brave or depraved can go long without cheese.