Restaurant to close, another to open in downtown Columbia

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COLUMBIA - As another one of Columbia's restaurant closes, restaurant and property owners alike agree quality service and staff are staples to a lasting eatery. 

Owner of Alley A Realty owner, John Ott, said he believes one of the reasons Ingredient is closing after 11 years of service was the owner's distance.

"I think the largest issue there was the owner was an absentee owner and he wasn't around much and wasn't able to give much direction to the staff and they had a real good staff but I think sometimes motivation can be lacking when their not getting a lot of direction," Ott said.

Other restaurants like I'm Sushi Burrito and Moe's have all closed in the same area as Ingredient, along 9th Street near the MU campus. One Columbia resident said he isn't surprised Ingredient shut down.

"There were some long wait times," said Andrew Wallace. "And I noticed a lot of other people having similar issues, noticing more lettuce and less specialty ingredients in, and I was kind of wondering if something was going on but I'm not super surprised."

While some restaurants are closing, others are due to open soon. B&B Bagel Company is set to open in August in the location I'm Sushi Burrito previously occupied. Owner Brad Newkirk, said after 19 years of success at their location on Nifong Boulevard, he believes they will do well in their new downtown location.

"My staff is wonderful, we care about our customers, we get to know our customers, we've got a unique product, a great product, a fresh made product," Newkirk said. "And then we're very friendly, when you come in the door its gonna be quick service and it's also relatively inexpensive."

Shakespeare's Pizza in downtown Columbia has been around since 1973. General manager of the Shakespeare's downtown, Toby Epstein, attributes the success of the restaurant to the employees and their product.

"We understand its really completive and we take it really seriously and we try to stay on top of our game, as long as we can stay loyal to our customers, provide good service and have a good product were going to be okay," Epstein said.

He also said foot traffic is a main concern for many restaurants. While places like Ingredient and I'm Sushi Burrito got good foot traffic during the school year, Epstein said it significantly slowed down in the summer and that can be a factor.

President of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Matt McCormick, said the city of Columbia works hard to support local businesses. He said that while restaurants are some of the hardest businesses to start, Columbia is a great place to do it with their proximity to campus and student employees.

"What's nice about that for our downtown businesses is they have access to those potential employees and the great thing for the students is they have access to jobs if they need jobs as their working their way through college," McCormick said.