Tuesday, August 21, 2007

GF businesses spruce up

Recently, several restaurants and other businesses in Grand Forks have started projects to spruce up their aging buildings. It's interesting to note that the businesses that I list below are not located in fast growing commercial areas such as the city's south side or even neighborhoods such as University Village or downtown. Instead, the businesses are located in areas of town that haven't seen much building activity for years. Some are even in areas that are often thought of as blighted.

Personally, I think there are many businesses in town which need a thorough face lift. I'm always a bit puzzled as to why some business owners never bother to update their buildings. There are business in town which needed remodeling ten or fifteen years ago, but their owners still don't feel the need to make these necessary updates. "Updates" can be as cheap as a new coat of paint on a faded wall or as expensive as a brand new building to replace a dilapidated one. Often, it seems like some business owners are too cheap to even spring for that new coat of paint. That's one reason why I'm happy to see these particular owners invest in their buildings. I think of it kind of like the broken window hypothesis in reverse: one improvement will lead to another and on and on.

A few projects around town...
•The McDonald's restaurant at the intersection of I-29 and Gateway Drive was torn this summer and replaced with an entirely new building. The new building appears to be roughly the same size as the old one, but sports a modern exterior with colorful accents like yellow awnings. The old, dark brick building was a little depressing looking and clearly in need of some major upgrades. The new restaurant should open soon. With the construction of this new building, all three McDonald's locations in the city of Grand Forks have buildings that were built in the last ten years.

•Grand Forks' only remaining Hardee's restaurant, located on South Columbia Road, is in the early stages of a much needed upgrade. According to a manager at the restaurant, the exterior of the building is being remodeled first and an exterior remodeling will occur after that. The restaurant has never had a major remodeling project in its twenty some years. On a side note, my family used to eat at Hardee's on almost a weekly basis back in the 80s and early 90s, but now we haven't eaten there in years. I'm guessing we're not the only ones who don't go there as much as we used to; Grand Forks has gone from three Hardee's to just one in a matter of a couple of years.

•Just down the street from Hardee's, the South Columbia Road Subway restaurant has been temporarily closed for a remodeling project. I know there are a bunch of people out there who are sick of hearing any and all news regarding Grand Forks' burgeoning stock of Subways. Well...at least I'm not reporting about a brand new Subway opening up. A remodeled Subway is better than an outdated one, right?

•The Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on South Washington Street is in the midst of a major remodeling project which includes the building's exterior and...I'm hoping...the interior as well. I like KFC, but that restaurant is ridiculously small and incredibly outdated. I know that tiny lot will prevent any expansion of the building, but I'm happy to see the building's appearance improved. I'm still not sure why KFC has never opened a second Grand Forks location...32nd Avenue seems like a very logical location.

•The old South Washington strip mall that houses Mexican Village is being extensively remodeled. I've heard others say this and I agree: it looks like a brand new strip mall was plopped down right on Washington. I'm very pleased to see really outdated buildings like this mall remodeled.

Am I missing any other major remodeling projects that are going on out there? What other restaurants or stores in Grand Forks need a good makeover? One that pops into my mind is Taco Bell. Our two Taco Bells are very, very 90s. I'm jealous of the new Taco Bell across from West Acres in Fargo...odd thing to be jealous over, huh?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

If a building is clean,comfortable and accessible, I don't know why everything has to be "remodeled". I like the mix of old and new buildings. Seems that fast food restaurants find it less costly to tear down and rebuild than to fix a place up. Call me sensible or sentimental but I like the history of some of our local buildings. If they need repairs or paint, thats fine. But I'd prefer to not clean the slate on structures just because the building is aging.

Anonymous said...

With our penchant for what's new and what's next, restaurants have to renovate or risk being overlooked. Just the cost of doing business.

Anonymous said...

The Taco Johns on Washington was remodeled, and now they are closing the one on Gateway to remodel.

jason said...

remodeling is fine, but the mcdonalds on gateway is just absurd. To tear the whole thing down just to build another restaurant the same size is just unnecessary. They could have fixed the place up without tearing it down.

Anonymous said...

Hardees is closing all over the nation. There was corporate trouble, and it had nothing to do with how the local ones may have been fairing. I travel for work and a lot of them have been closed in the last few years including Thief River Falls, Crookston, International Falls, Devils Lake to name a few. A couple of them have now been replaced with Arby's.

Nick said...

Finally. Some accurate, useful info by one of our anonymous's.

Similar notes on Hardee's in the Twin Cities.

Thank you, anonymous. *s*

Anonymous said...

I don't think the McDonald's on Gateway could have been "fixed up". The roof was caving in and it cost just as much to tear it down and build a new one than remodel the existing one.

Jeni.Ann said...

Hardee's was bought out in 1997 by CKE Restaurants, the parent company for Carls Jr., the source of the new star logo we see today. As a result, they stopped supporting many of the Hardee's franchises and left them to fend for themselves, particularly in locations that had more than one store.

The current Hardee's in Grand Forks, located at Columbia and 17th, was recently sold to a new owner. The manager informed me that the previous owner was not restaurant savvy and let the condition of the facility and staff decline. Fortunately, the new owner understands how to operate a restaurant and has made efforts to renovate the exterior, with plans to renovate the interior later this year. In addition, they have dropped the last vestiges of the old Hardee's franchise orange and converted over to a full Carls Jr corporate support.

GrandForksGuy said...

Thanks for the informative post, jeni.ann!

And for some of the above posters, yes, I fully realize that Hardee's locations have been closing all over the country. I believe Fargo used to have a bunch and are now just down to one or two. I used to really enjoy Hardee's "back in the day"...the place really went downhill over the last decade or so.

GrandForksGuy said...

"I don't think the McDonald's on Gateway could have been "fixed up". The roof was caving in and it cost just as much to tear it down and build a new one than remodel the existing one."

I have to agree with you. That place was so depressing...it is nice to see the north side get a fresh new building for a change. All too often, it seems like development and redevlopment only takes place on the south side.

Matthew said...

So, Hardee's changed its name to confuse people into thinking that they weren't stil the same horrible greasy food chain?

dale said...

No, changing to "Carls Jr" would encourage less people to come in the door.

True story: a friend and I flew into San Francisco super late one night. We were really hungry, so headed out for a downtown Carls Jr at about 2AM. As we walked out (fed, though not particularly satisfied,) a bum accosted us and asked for a couple of bucks to eat in the restaurant.

My friend shook him off, saying "naw, brother, you don't want to eat in there."

Don't remember the bum arguing.

Say what you will about Hardee's, Carls Jr has a far worse reputation.

Anonymous said...

There has been some "movement" at the old gas station in front of Grand Junction on Washington. Saw some workers breaking up concrete. Anybody have an idea what's going on?

Anonymous said...

I highly doubt that people looking for cheap junk food give a rip about the condition of the property. This is probably a compliance requirement handed down by the franchise owners. Excluding Mexi Village, of course (it's not a franchise).

Anonymous said...

Excuse me if this has been posted elsewhere (I am sure it has and I missed it), I noticed that over the last week or so Jeannie's has been torn down. Anyone know what is going to be done with that piece of property? Is anything that any one knows about going to be erected there?

dale said...

Is anything that any one knows about going to be erected there?

Auto parts store.

Anonymous said...

ack.