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Change is part of life and on Fifth Avenue between Washington and University change is redefining life for some of Hillcrest’s locally owned restaurants.  Not long ago Kemosabe and Corvette Diner left the area and now, across the street in the complex that houses the Landmark Theater and 24 Hour Fitness, Pizza Nova closes at the end of August after 17 years (and a doubling of rent) while next door Banana Leaf that served southern Indian food (owned by Bombay formerly in the space and now across the street), just closed.

Apparently the owners/developers decided to up the rents to be more in line with the current going rates on the street–anyone interested in $3.50 a square foot for these spaces? Interested parties can check with Location Matters for more information.

The new leases for the expected winter opening of Colorado’s Snooze (breakfast and brunch) and  soon-to-open Texas transplant Freebirds World Burrito, (owned by the Tavisock Group out of Florida) are both just above $3, not $3.50.  But in this economy, one wonders if prospective tenants (locals or out-of-town franchises) are beating down the doors to get into spots like Banana Leaf or Pizza Nova.  Buzz hopes the area doesn’t discourage locals trying to compete with new franchises. Time will tell.

At the corner of Washington and Fifth, Brazen BBQ Smokehouse & Bar opened this week.  It’s a casual spot with patio tables, a wash sink for sticky hands in the dining room, a full bar and eager staff.  This is the soft opening so be patient if you try the place in the next few weeks as they work out the kinks and add menu items.  Buzz popped in to see the place.  Here you won’t find parboiled meat, just smoked.  While I was waiting for my to-go order (3 meats and 3 sides $20.99) a big basket of chicken wings waited its turn in the smoker that’s right behind the cashiers. 441 Washington at Fifth Ave., 619-816-1990, closed Tuesdays, open daily from 11am

Finally, heard on the street that City Deli on the corner of Sixth and University is up for sale.

6 thoughts on “Big Changes for Hillcrest’s Fifth Avenue

  1. I’m sad to hear Pizza Nova is closing down. I haven’t eaten there much recently, but it’s a great place for a vegetarian to eat at. (Lots of options that are clearly thought out and not just “oh let’s just take the out of the dish and serve it”.)

    City Deli can’t close down!!! It’s a San Diego institution! I hope the buyer recognizes that!

    I’m sad that local companies are leaving. Kinda not impressed with Snooze’s menu (again, not very veggie friendly!) And kinda not impressed with Freebird although I could totally love to see Chipotle leave the ‘hood. I don’t want to see fattening foods billed as something other than what they are.

    I hope locals come back. I don’t want to see franchises. Seriously sad if this happens. We have had such a vibrant ‘hood, with so many choices. Let’s keep the choices local folks!!!

  2. Mike Clark at Cassidy Turley BRE Commercial is the listing broker for the Landmark Theatre property. There are many restaurants vying for restaurant space in Hillcrest. At the previous City Wok space they had 9 full price leasing offers before signing Luna Grill.

  3. While the closing down of any local restaurant like Pizza Nova is disappointing, it is somewhat understandable as well. They have struggled at this location for years, and it seems as if they placed all their money and time into their other locations.

    Also, I contacted the Village Hillcrest ownership and asked why they doubled the lease rate and if they thought this was fair. They informed me that this was not the case at all. In fact they are more than happy to document that they gave both Pizza Nova and Banana “Lease rental reductions” for almost two years now.

    The ownership did let them know that if they could not pay their rent, which is below the $3.00/psf that was stated in this article, that they would market and release the spaces to other retail tenants. Seems fair to me. I asked the Pizza Nova manager if this was true, and she said “no comment”.

    Plus, the group that is slated to lease the Pizza Nova space is a killer healthy concept that is run by a local husband and wife. I was asked not to release the name yet, but they have one other location and trust me when I tell you the food and options are 10 times better.

  4. Much of the problem with the area is simply lack of parking.

    Sad to lose local owned places in favor of corporate eateries where quality of food is dictated by profits and seldom taste.

    Let’s see how long some of these new places last. Will the hood embrace them?

  5. Landlords who double rent on spaces like this deplore me. These tenants supported you during the down times of the market when no one would rent your spaces, and now that the market has picked back up and Hillcrest is a hot market for restaurants, you exercise greed and kick out an establishment that’s been in the hood for many years now, only to take a risk on a new tenant who is paying way above market rent for the space, and may not last more then a year… Well done guys. NOT.

    On the other hand, in fairness, Pizza Nova sucked. We have so many better options for pizza in Hillcrest including Bronx and in Mission Hills Lefty’s… The only thing I’ll miss to be honest is their Garlic bread Knots. 🙂

  6. And here we are a year later, Freebirds has already closed. Landlords need to exercise their due diligence before selecting tenants. Oh wait, they get the rent whether the tenant succeeds or fails… Unless of course they move out. Freebirds was in too big of a location for a quick service restaurant, that size location needs to be a sit down restaurant. Plus there is too much competition for more “corporate” type restaurants, people in Hillcrest prefer to dine at local eateries rather then chains.


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