Downtown restaurant owners remain optimistic despite changes
COLUMBIA — Restaurant owners downtown have had a lot to deal with since last April.
First, it was announced in April the original Shakespeare's Pizza on 220 South Ninth Street relocated to a new location in May due to redevelopment to the area by McAlester Park LLC.
On February 15, the Columbia City Council approved a proposal that will allow a plan to move forward to demolish the current site of another iconic restaurant, Quinton's Bar and Deli at 124 South Ninth Street, in the near future for redevelopment.
Despite all of this, restaurant owners continue to remain optimistic.
The same family has owned the Heidelberg at 410 South Ninth Street since 1963, and owner Richard Walls said he expects his restaurant to continue to do well.
"Any time there’s a change in the amount of food service establishments, it definitely has an impact," Walls said. "I think right now there’s enough people downtown that people can be fairly busy and do well.
Walls said he's seen as many as 17 restaurants go out of business in recent history after the federal minimum wage increased every year from 2012-2015.
The Wolf's Head Tavern at 201 North Tenth Street has only been in business since last September, but owner Aaron Lee Warren said his relatively new restaurant has greatly exceeded expectations.
"In our first five months, it's been great," Warren said. "We've been developing a client base of new people, and then we have some old friends who enjoy a drink or two, and enjoy some food."
Warren, who was previously a manager at G&D Pizzaria, also said restaurant owners downtown are generally supportive of one another, even during weak economic conditions.
"We're all really close, we're all friends," Warren said. "Overall, everyone really cares for each other, and we all want each other to thrive and do well for ourselves."
Shakespeare's Pizza is expected to move back to its former location by the end of the summer.
Quinton's Bar and Deli has also been invited to return to its current location after building is completed. The construction for the building is expected to be completed in the summer of 2017. The building plan is likely to include student housing.