I should refrain from commenting on restaurants.
Different rules. Different dynamics.
Yes, they're retail. But with a whole 'nother set of overhead requirements, and vastly more labor oriented. Just buying fresh food would be a completely different experience.
It's my blog.
So I was quoted in the Bulletin a couple of Sundays ago that I wasn't really worried about downtown Bend. That someone would come along and fill the Volo space, and the Deep, and even the Merenda -- though in that last, I thought maybe only the bottom floor.
One thing about Bend's continually failing upward; it leaves beautiful corpses.
These are attractive spaces, after all. A lot of money was spent on these locations, and that cost isn't passed along to the new tenant, except in rent, and with the economy the way it is, the rent can't go much higher.
Hermit crabs could come along and grab these beautiful shells.
And finally, foot traffic is really important. And where else in Bend, except maybe the Old Mill, will you find significant foot traffic?
Still, privately, I had my doubts about the Merenda space. It still seems awfully big.
In my mind, I was imagining a meeting in the Portland offices of McCormick and Schmicks and these words being spoken: "Let's go to downtown Bend -- where restaurants are dying like flies, replace a well-regarded name, pay just as much rent, and wait for the economy to turn around!"
It didn't seem likely to me.
Except...as a retailer, I realize that you have to grab that prime location when you can. Linda and I jumped all over that corner building on 3rd and Greenwood where we now have the Bookmark. I'd driven my it a hundred times and commented to Linda, "Too bad we couldn't have THAT space..." So, we didn't hesitate.
It's all a matter of timing.
For one thing, from the interview in the paper (and from what I've heard on the grapevine) the landlord wasn't being terribly flexible on the rent rate.
It seemed even more unlikely that a local group would come along and be able to swing a deal. And what they could do better than the previous tenant; except, as I said, save on the 'opportunity costs.'
Apparently, that's what happened.
I'm going to take a wait and see attitude, though. I'll totally believe it when it happens. I suspect there are a few more preliminary rounds to play.
But...it bodes well for downtown, that we'll get through this next two or three years without becoming a ghost town.
6 days ago