Juan’s Flying Burrito to close Uptown Magazine Street location
“It’s expensive for the landlords, it’s expensive for everybody,” said David Greengold, Chief Financial Officer for Juan’s Flying Burrito.
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A popular local Mexican restaurant chain will close its Uptown New Orleans location as rising rents along Magazine Street squeeze the wallets of small businesses, but not large national chains.
Juan’s Flying Burrito’s Uptown location, at 5538 Magazine St. next to the Whole Foods, will tentatively close when their lease ends on May 31. Right now, Juan’s management is looking for a new Uptown location, and said they could go month-to-month in their current space.
“Ultimately the market’s gonna bear what the market can bear, and I totally understand that,” said David Greengold, Chief Financial Officer of Juan’s Flying Burrito. “It’s always a fight, but ultimately there’s not a lot we can do about it as consumers except by our wallets.”
Greengold said the location, one of five Juan’s across New Orleans and Pensacola, was paying below market rent on a large space. He said there’s no bad blood between Juan’s and the landlord, Williamson Brothers.
Ultimately, Greengold said the closure is an indication of a bigger problem on the Magazine Street corridor: large, national chains moving in and diluting the market share.
“Bigger companies that have deeper pockets that can absorb a larger occupancy expense are more interested in getting a piece of the market share for their product as part of their portfolio, as opposed to operating profitably,” Greengold said, pointing to a nearby Starbucks location on State Street.
All 34 employees of the Juan’s location will have the option to relocate to one of the other restaurants.
Kevin Gillentine, President of the Magazine Street Merchant’s Association, said there’s always an ebb and flow when it comes to businesses on Magazine.
“There’s so much stuff on Magazine Street, there’s always an up and down,” Gillentine said.
“When you have larger companies that come in and compete with smaller companies, one thing that’s great is that New Orleans kind of knows that, and I think we have people in New Orleans that try to divide the love and kind of make sure that they support small business,” he added.
The original Juan’s location, in the Lower Garden District, will remain open.
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