Businesses might have fewer neighbors in the South Campus Gateway, but not all see it as a downfall.
“Everybody here at Pizza Rustica is extremely excited for the changes that may be occurring here within the … short term to long term. Our business has been very stable. We are very excited to be here,” said Chris diDonato, owner of Pizza Rustica, located at 1558 N. High St. in the Gateway.
Since the beginning of the summer, at least three properties in the area have closed — Charlie Bear: Land of Dance, Gooeyz and Kildare’s Irish Pub, the two former of which announced their respective leaves via Twitter within the last two weeks.
A Monday tweet from Gooeyz restaurant and bar’s Twitter account, @Gooeyz, read “Gooeyz is now closed. Thank you for your patronage and all of the Cheezy Love!!”
Charlie Bear revealed via Twitter and Facebook Oct. 24 it would be moving to a new location at 2885 Olentangy River Road, formerly Cadillac Boo’s, which was owned by the same people as Charlie Bear.
While diDonato declined to comment on his knowledge of either business moving, Campus Partners for Community Urban Redevelopment representatives said they hadn’t been forewarned.
“The social media blurb was news to us,” said Amanda Hoffsis, president of Campus Partners for Community Urban Redevelopment about Charlie Bear’s notice. “We were not expecting that announcement.”
Campus Partners is a private nonprofit corporation that works on community planning in the OSU campus area alongside OSU and the city of Columbus. South Campus Gateway LLC is a subtenant of Campus Partners, Hoffsis said in an email.
There was a similar situation with Gooeyz’s announcement, she said.
“I expected them to be open (Tuesday). I found out (Tuesday morning) about their announcement,” Hoffsis said on the phone.
DiDonato said he knew the owners of both establishments from being neighbors for the past few years.
“I’ve gotten to know the owners of Charlie Bear and Gooeyz. We all moved in around the same time frame three years ago. I can wish them nothing but the best of luck. For whatever reason, things didn’t work out for them here at the Gateway,” diDonato said.
While Gooeyz was not in conflict with the terms of its lease, Charlie Bear was, Hoffsis said.
“I can tell you in the past six months (Charlie Bear has) been unable to fulfill their lease terms, and we’ve been in negotiations with them since early summer how to address those issues,” she said, though she told The Lantern she could not disclose specifics.
Campus Partners was unable to disclose the exact parameters of the lease, or the contracts themselves, because the leases “are between those businesses and South Campus Gateway LLC,” Hoffsis said in an email.
The area might be down two tenants, but diDonato said Pizza Rustica is looking forward to the betterment of the Gateway as a whole.
“We are very sad to … see Gooeyz and Charlie Bear leave. In the same light, we are excited for the future for what we think is going be happening down here,” diDonato said.
Hoffsis is also focusing on the future by finding tenants that will meet community expectations.
“We are actively negotiating new leases with several new contracts, and I think in general, we are looking for things that are original ideas, things that complement the other tenants in the area,” Hoffsis said on the phone. “We are definitely not anti-bar or something like that … We want it to be an entertainment district.”
But with two bars down within two weeks, and the former Kildare’s lot still empty, some students are skeptical about the Gateway’s ability to generate business.
“I think (the Gateway) will lose a lot of money,” said Allison Jordan, a fourth-year in finance.
Allison Roda, a fifth-year in business marketing and strategic communication, shared Jordan’s sentiment.
“It’s not going to be as fun, and I think a lot of people are going to go downtown now,” Roda said.
DiDonato said he isn’t concerned about his business, though, and said his relationship with Campus Partners and the Gateway in general has been a positive one.
“They are always asking questions how can they help our business,” he said. “We’ve never had an issue, it’s been a fantastic relationship.”