Opening a restaurant in a building that formerly contained another restaurant can make the venture even riskier, depending on the old restaurant's reputation.
How was the service?
Was the food good?
And if the new restaurant plans to serve the same kind of food as the previous restaurant, there can be even more challenges for a local owner, says Tamara Nicholl-Smith, South Bend's director of downtown business recruitment.
It helps when a restaurant is "known" for something.
Wild Style Wings and Garcia's Mexican Family Restaurant, which recently closed their doors, seemingly struggled to carve out a niche and resonate with downtown diners.
Wild Style Wings opened in May 2012 in the former Buffalo Wild Wings at 123 W. Washington St., after the franchisee constructed a new restaurant building on South Bend's south side.
Garcia's Mexican Restaurant moved into the former Pedro's Family Restaurant, 110 N. Main St., after Pedro's moved to Portage Avenue in South Bend.
"You have to be able to distinguish yourself from the restaurant that was there before you," says Nicholl-Smith. "It's not enough to put up a sign and think that people will walk in. I think part of the recipe for success, no pun intended, is to be distinct."
Both these restaurant spaces are back on the market, along with Mark's Restaurant on Colfax Avenue and Tom's Restaurant on Lafayette Boulevard.
Nicholl-Smith says a South Bend west-side business is in negotiations for the Garcia's space. That same restaurant, whose name is not being disclosed yet, also may apply for a riverfront liquor license, she says.
"They're both good locations," Nicholl-Smith says. "But the restaurants that come in should serve a different niche than the last two did. They should bring a new flavor to downtown."
Zing Japanese Fusion, which is located in downtown Mishawaka, has indicated it would like to open a second restaurant in downtown South Bend.
What restaurant or type of cuisine would you like to see downtown? Share your ideas during our next live chat. The chat starts at 1 p.m. Tuesday at www.southbendtribune.com.
Purple Porch update
The local food co-operative is officially moving.
Starting June 19, Purple Porch growers and farmers will be moving to its new location that is now under renovation at 123 Hill St., in the East Bank Village, downtown South Bend.
Since its inception, Purple Porch has been located at Langlab, 1302 High St.
The community-owned food co-op last week also received a $25,000 exterior enhancement grant from Downtown South Bend Inc.
The grant will be applied toward the cost of renovating its new space where it is planning to open and operate a store and café this fall, says Greg Koehler, general manager.
Renovations already are under way inside the building, where Purple Porch will offer fresh produce, bulk foods, grocery items, meats, dairy, soups and salads.
Have you heard?
Renovations are planned at the Mishawaka Red Lobster, 3930 N. Main St., according to a state construction report. ... Carnival Treats is planned at 4217 Grape Road, Mishawaka, at the Grape Road Plaza. Look for it to open in early June. It will feature such items as elephant ears, corn dogs and more than 50 flavors of Hawaiian shaved ice, says owner Steve Ross. ... Pumpernickel's Pretzel Bakery recently opened its doors at 500 S. Main St., Elkhart, one block south of the new Lerner Theater. The restaurant features fresh-baked pretzel sandwiches. Pumpernickel's is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday. ... The Benton Harbor Applebee's, 2050 Pipestone Road, restaurant reopened Friday after a $300,000 renovation.
Heidi Prescott's column runs on Fridays and Sundays. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-235-6070. You can also talk retail at Facebook.com/thebasket and at Twitter.com/marketbasket. Hear her weekday reports at 6:52 a.m. on The WSBT Morning News with JT at WSBT-AM (960) and WSBT-FM (96.1).