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Is a South Campus Gateway restaurant location cursed by vacancy?

Katelyn Pruchnicki / Lantern photographer

Jed’s Express closed its doors in early March after being open for less than six months, becoming the third restaurant at 14 E. 11th Ave. to close in just seven years.

Located in the South Campus Gateway, the property has experienced little success with three different restaurants. Before Jed’s, Shish Kebab Express and Pesto Creative Italian Bistro leased the building. Shish Kebab Express was in business for two academic quarters and Pesto survived for two years. There was also an elongated period of time when the building was unoccupied from fall 2007 to winter 2010.

Erin Prosser, the director of marketing and community relations for South Campus Gateway, said she is unsure on whether they have begun the process of prospecting a new tenant to fill the vacant spot.

With the amount of success that the restaurants had at the location, the property is starting to generate a cursed mystique.

Tom Helberg, the owner of Bellevue Investors Co., a commercial real estate and property holding company, said he does not believe a building can be cursed, but the failures of previous businesses can affect the image of a location.

“As a landlord, what you’re concerned about is the image of the place,” Helberg said. “You want stability. There is nothing worse than a revolving door, tenants going in and out.”

One thing the three restaurants had in common was the lack of a national brand name, something that is prominent in an area that features businesses such as Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Panera Bread and Cold Stone Creamery.

Helberg said that while being surrounded by known commodities can negatively impact an up-and-coming restaurant, local businesses can still thrive in these conditions.

“It’s cool to support local business,” Helberg said. “But they need to have a good product. I think that location is secondary to quality.”

Andrew Eggers, a fourth-year in human nutrition and exercise science, said he saw Jed’s struggle firsthand as an employee of the Nutrition X, Jed’s former neighbor.

“I talked to the manager and he would tell me his lunch special would get a lot of the construction people in the area, but other than that it was like nothing,” Eggers said. “He told me the students weren’t coming in.”

Eggers said he had seen Jed’s succeed in other areas, so he was surprised to see them fail in such a short period of time at their Gateway location.

“I was shocked actually, because I have been to the one out in Hilliard,” Eggers said. “My girlfriend is from Bowling Green and they are huge out there.”

Prosser said she was unsure why Jed’s and the other restaurants were unable to find success.

“It really depends,” Prosser said. “We try to be as supportive as possible. It’s really a wide variety of issues for why they don’t succeed.”

Helberg said he believes that the location is likely not the problem, as other businesses are succeeding in the area. He also said it is important for the Gateway to find a company that has the ability to stay in business, even if the first few months are not profitable.

“They have to know the strength of the company,” Helberg said. “They need to be up-front and make it known that they don’t want to repeat this pattern. People want to believe the phrase, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ This is not true. You have to have some staying power.”

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