Posted at: 10/18/2012 6:38 PM
By: Steph Crock
Two Restaurants Close at Oak Park Mall
(ABC 6 News) -- It's been a pretty strong year for the Oak Park Mall in Austin. After having many vacant store fronts, it has been filling up at a steady pace. Though now, one of the visible new faces of the mall, is closing its doors.
"It's just been paying its bills and that’s it, so at some point in time as a business person, you have to just pull the plug," said Ole Barn Owner Bob Nelson.
A difficult decision for the owner of the Ole Barn, which was open for less than a year. Despite the struggles, Bob Nelson is confident the food is not to blame. "It's the exact same menu that I did for a company out in Chicago for two BBQ restaurants in Appleton Wisconsin. They do $1.8 to $1.9 million gross a year," said Nelson.
They aren't alone, a few steps away J&K also closed up. So what's behind the history of struggles at the mall? "I'm not sure, I think the community obviously needs to support small businesses," said Oak Park Mall Manager and Marketing Director Shan Kehret.
Not just any small businesses, food was actually a priority from the public. "Vision 2020, one of the issues is that they wanted more restaurants here in Austin," said Nelson.
So how come people aren't pouring in? "We need to invest out here. We need to clean it up out here," said Nelson.
Like the parking lot that’s in rough shape. Something the owner promised to have fixed up by last summer. The manager says, they want to do all of this but says people need to go inside their mall and spend money for them to have the funds to do so.
"He (the owner) is addressing that, and he is diligently working on it," said Kehret about the parking lot issue. That’s because keeping the mall busy is her number one concern. “My first year, my first business that I got out here was in 2010 and since then I've had 16 new business," said Kehret. She also says, though they've lost these restaurants, there are a few stores coming in. All they hope is the community will support the upcoming shops.
"The mall is here, and it’s here to stay," said Kehret.
The Ole Barn says they're leaving Austin but plan relocate, possibly in a neighboring city. As for the mall, they have three stores coming in and two more in the works.