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American Flatbread is closing

Discussion in 'Area Restaurants, Dining and Food' started by sds, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. Chsalas

    Chsalas Member

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    Agreed, not quite what I would consider a "kids" place.
     
  2. sharse

    sharse TeamDonzi rocks!!

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    It was my kids (6 and 7) favorite restaurant!
     
  3. GotTwins?

    GotTwins? New Member

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    Ok gang, couple of glasses of wine and I can no longer bite my tongue. While your feedback and wishes for a Flatbread replacement are greatly appreciated, the dialogue has been completely misguided. I'm leasing the space, and you all act as if landlords have their pick of the litter of replacement tenants. Just look at Saul's Safeway center - with all of their vacancy, do you think that they are leaving space unleased until they can get a Great American concept, or a Santini's or whatever the latest hot concept is? Maybe landlords can do that at Dulles Town Center or Reston Town Center, but everywhere else - you take what you can get and you like it.

    In this economy, it is a tenant driven market. We are marketing the space to the entire world. We talk to every single restaurant that you all have mentioned (and most of time the rent is never the issue). Capricorn1964 said why would we put in McDonald's and Taco Bell; that is an insane comment. For the same reason that you or anyone ever runs a credit check - on a loan, a credit card, whatever. It's a business, and we have a mortgage. Yes, we care about tenant mix and synergies and bringing the types of uses that the communithy wants. Unfortunately, Callaloo and Flatbread aren't paying rent any longer, but yet McDonalds and Taco Bell are. There's your answer. And do you really think that if Chick-Fil-A wanted to be in Broadlands Marketplace that I wouldn't have put them there? Please stop the insanity . . .

    The comments about lack of office/lunch crowd, too much competition from chain restaurants and other destination hot spots, and Ashburnians/Ashburnites wanting to eat at home during the week and not wanting a DC price tag in a surburban location, are all dead on. And every prospective replacement restaurant knows it. I live here; I get it. I loved Flatbread, but my kids didn't. And if I wanted a special date night without kids, I'm going Eastward. The idea of an upscale, quaint, independent restaurant with good food, great service and reasonable prices in Ashburn is ideallic. Sure, we'd love that. But the masses won't flock to it frequently enough to sustain such a business long term. The public is too fickle. Even Clyde's, which I think everyone would agree is a nice option to have in our community, doesn't do nearly the sales volume that they expected. Weekends, naturally, but lunch . . . crickets.

    I respect the wishes of the community, I really do. I want an independent, reasonably priced, unique concept as much as all of you do. But it's not like I can pick up the phone and call someone and they'll take the space. Retailers are very well educated on the Ashburn market now. They see the high incomes and highly educated workforce, but they also see the lack of lunch crowd, the competition, the expensive labor, the lack of disposable income due to shrinking home values, and the number of restaurants going out of business. Trust me, the whole world knows that the Flatbread space is available, and that we're not looking to gouge anyone on the rent. But the Negativity Forums needs to be realistic in its expectations . . .

    Ty Hausch
    Van Metre Companies
    thausch@vanmetrecompanies.com
     
  4. Winston

    Winston Junior Mint

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    Ty, I don't know you, but I love you. :D
     
  5. GotTwins?

    GotTwins? New Member

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    I love you too, man!
     
  6. wolf685cln

    wolf685cln New Member

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    I think most of us were just dreaming away of tasty bites nearby and don't have any real expectations. In getting lost in a few of these threads that stretch across the years recently, reality just doesn't factor into the banter all the time ... ;)
     
  7. Mr. Linux

    Mr. Linux Senior Member & Moderator Forum Staff

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    Ty, THANK YOU! :happythumbsup:
     
  8. Capricorn1964

    Capricorn1964 Active Member

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    Please forgive me for writing a rebuttal here but I never did say "why would we put in McDonald's and Taco Bell in Southern Walk". I stated that it just amazes me that these two fast food restaurants are there when quite a number of folks (not all but some) want non-chain restaurants and McDonalds and Taco Bell are National Chain restaurants. But yes, I do understand that business is business and you guys have a mortgage to pay so any tenant would do as long as they are credit-worthy and capable of paying the rent.

    However, I can't help but wonder if these two restaurants as well as other chain stores will be able to stay profitable for much longer because 1) granted most of the lunch crowd folks work at a distance; 2) Most families tend to cook dinner at home during the week; and 3) most likely many want to spend their hard earned bucks at a more decent restaurant so they are willing to drive a distance to attend a more suitable restaurant for the entire family on the weekends.

    Having said that, I would think that since these two restaurants in addition to the other chain stores probably are leaning on their parent companies to keep the stores going because I find it a bit difficult to believe that they are profitable alone by themselves without any assistance (read: subsidizing) from the parent company. Its like this--they may have invested with the hope that MORE homes and more office buildings will be built around Southern Walk to sustain their businesses. In fact, I was talking to one of the employees of a grocery store and found that they are not making a large profit as some of their other locations in Fairfax County or Loudoun because they are in an area that isn't as "congested" with people as other locations are. The employee mentioned they are banking on the silver line and GMU campus opening up so they can realize a real uptick in business.

    But all in all, many of the reasons you've listed in your posting as to why some are failing are largely valid. Competition is also a valid reason: I recall being told by the same employee that since Walmart in the Dulles Mall area has begun selling groceries, etc.--they have noticed that their business had suffered a little since Walmart's grocery prices are much more competitive than theirs. I see MORE folks at Walmart and Costco food area than I do with Harris Teeter or Giant. I guess people around here are trying to stretch their dollars further due to rising gas prices and cost of living. Its a given, I guess.

    Thanks for letting me chime in. Hope we can get another good family restaurant business that will be a viable one at an affordable price for everyone.
     
  9. wolf685cln

    wolf685cln New Member

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    I think that was the point, that it isn't up to us resident dreamers as to what goes in, its up to the party that signs the lease and ponies up the cash...
     
  10. Capricorn1964

    Capricorn1964 Active Member

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    Yup, you are right. We can dream all we want, but its ultimately the renter that can pony up the cash to move in... But its people like us that can vote with our pocketbooks.
     
  11. T8erman

    T8erman Well-Known Member

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    Okay, not for nothing, but I for one do not care if a restaurant is a national chain or a family run place. Mom and pop can cook a bad meal just as easily as Mr. Conglomerate can.

    Good food is good food and taste is subjective. YMMV
     
  12. JLC

    JLC Member

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    This isn't necessarily true. Our restaurant is a franchise of a national chain and we don't get any subsidies from them. How they help us: advertising (which we still pay quite a lot towards), name brand recognition (which comes from the advertising) and the ability to have slightly lower food costs because of central distribution. But we pay weekly royalties to them for all of that.

    Franchisees are basically mom & pop operations in a lot of ways.

    As an aside, I believe the new owners of the McDonalds are pretty local. (not sure if Broadlands residents)
     
  13. redon1

    redon1 aka Aphioni

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    you are right t8- i just have a soft spot for great family owned and run places. that said- the drive thru dude at mickey d's knows me by name. :eek:

    i just like the idea of dining in my hometown in excellent places that don't exist on major off ramps and every metro area, ya know? like Not Your Average Joes- yes it's a franchise, but a small, regional one with amazing top quality food. (NO THEY ARE NOT A CLIENT OF MINE.) and they have a menu that uses ingredients from local farmers.

    or Cafe Opera- we've taken every out of town guest we've ever had here and they have always loved it.(AGAIN, NOT A CLIENT. :) ) they ALL have a PF changs where they live, so why would i take them there?? when people come to visit, THOSE are the places I want to take them.
     
  14. redon1

    redon1 aka Aphioni

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    Ty, THANK YOU for speaking out- it's great to hear your perspective.

    you know I'm a huge local biz supporter, and I love the variety that exists in the Broadlands Marketplace. Mickey Ds and Taco Bell make sense- if The Man and I want Thai and The Boy doesn't- he can hoof it over to those places with a buddy while we enjoy Basil Chicken! (but he loves Anothai so that would never happen.)

    We definitely have an identity crisis in Ashburn when it comes to dining out- we want unqiue but can't support it as a community since as you said- people go EAST for special. we want affordable but we don't want the same old thing- Ihop, Ruby Tuesdays, on and on. we want top quality but don't want to pay for it.

    Best of luck with that space- I hope you get a GREAT replacement!!
     
  15. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    I can't understand why this ""amazes" you. Taco Bell and McDonald's are hugely successful and have worldwide recognition.
    I can assure you that many, many Broadlands residents frequent them both.
    Including myself. Love swinging through the take-out on my way in for a mid-shift.
    I also love Anothai, Cafe Opera, American Flatbread, and others.
    As someone who eats out mostly for week day lunches, I wished Flatbread had been open for lunch!
     
  16. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    Funny you left out all the variables controlled by the landlord.. like comparable rents vs other areas... exclusives... terms... etc. I mean if it's so bad here, are you inferring VM didn't do their homework when they built the center in the first place?

    At some point the landlords need to look in the mirror too.
     
  17. Capricorn1964

    Capricorn1964 Active Member

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    Flynnibus...very good point. Not all landlords are equal in their dealings.
     
  18. GotTwins?

    GotTwins? New Member

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    Funny - Broadlands Marketplace has maintained a higher level of occupancy through the years compared with all of our competition. That's a fair argument if you are referring to Broadlands Village Center, but Van Metre has been very fair with its lease terms and in its dealings with struggling tenants.

    When construction on the center started, the market was thriving. Of course we did our homework. But real estate, like the economy in general, is cylical and unpredictable. If a homeowner bought a house at the top of the market and is now under water, are you suggesting that they did not do their "homework"? If a stock market investor buys a stock and the business fails, did they not do their "homework"? Homework is only part of the equation; luck is a big part of it too.

    The Ashburn boom produced a number of shopping centers in a relatively short period of time. No one could have known that there would be so many Thai, pizza and sports themed restaurants.
     
  19. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    Which market? The housing market or what? because every 'factor' you listed that retailers see 'now' is pretty much what it always was. No daytime foot traffic, almost zero office/commerical space near by to bring in lunch, and how exactly does lower home values impact disposable income?

    It sounds like a bunch of finger pointing at the downturn - when most of the weakness is in the fundamentals that have little to do with the downturn. Which is why so many businesses failed even before the bubble popped. Ashburn landlords want to get a premium that probably is not justified for what the retail fundamentals are here. A few thousand homes doesn't help you all that much when they need to get into the car to get to you, and by doing so can just as readily reach all your competition once in the car. And it didn't take a fortune teller to know what shopping centers were already on the map to be built.

    The # of shopping centers is pretty well known. They are planned out ages ago (like the VM center was too). Maybe businesses and landlords need to adapt their practices vs holding onto what you 'thought' the market would be with that 'luck' you mentioned.

    Instead of relying on models that require 'luck' to succeed - maybe someone should restructure their business model to not be so volatile and rely so much on luck.
     
  20. wolf685cln

    wolf685cln New Member

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    I was talking with a colleague this morning about that reference, asking the exact same question. Only speculations we could come up with were 1) the perception of a lower value home (or upside down in some cases) decreases the feeling of security and curbs spending behavior and 2) owners who were riding the boom using home equity as a credit card and feeling that the good times would never end wound up learning a harsh lesson and are paying for it now. Just our thoughts though...
     

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