More arrivals than departures in Boise retail and restaurant scene

The Downtown Boise Association reported a higher ratio of openings to closings in both 2013 and 2012.

adutton@idahostatesman.comJanuary 30, 2014 

About this time last year, Boise had spent months bidding a reluctant farewell to a few icons of its retail and restaurant scene.

Steve Rambo closed his namesake jewelry shop, Burns Studio gave up its large brown house on State Street in favor of an online photo gallery, Angell’s Bar and Grill was about to be reinvented with a new owner, and Baguette Deli and La Vie en Rose had just closed their doors in Downtown Boise.

Another small wave of closures hit the area as the calendar turned to 2014. But the Treasure Valley is also getting plenty of new faces, and Downtown Boise’s new openings far outpace the closures.

The recently departed include:

- Stagecoach Inn steakhouse and lounge in Garden City.

- Old Spaghetti Factory in Downtown Boise.

- Gandolfo’s Deli in Meridian.

- The Green Chile, which served Southwest-style food in Northwest Boise.

- Salt, the eatery attached to Green Chutes artist collective in Northwest Boise.

- Oriental Express in Downtown Boise.

- Cazba Mediterranean Restaurant in Downtown Boise.

Messages left for some of the restaurants seeking information on why they closed were not returned.

The Stagecoach Inn’s closure was preceded by a bankruptcy filing about a year before, and a co-owner told the Statesman two weeks ago that the 54-year-old eatery was closing because of waning business.

“There are too many new shiny toys out there,” Jennifer Fraser said.

Cazba’s co-owner reported financial troubles and problems with an employee, and the space was leased to another tenant.

The couple who owned Oriental Express said they closed it because they’d worked six days a week, sometimes 12 hours a day, for almost two decades.

Despite the almost seasonal cycle, the Downtown Boise Association reported a higher ratio of openings to closings in both 2013 and 2012.

Twelve businesses closed in the Downtown business district last year; 28 opened. Several changed names or moved to new locations. There were 14 closures and 25 openings in 2012.

The much-anticipated Trader Joe’s and Ruth’s Chris Steak House will be open weeks from now in Boise. And the just-completed Eighth & Main building gives nearby shops and eateries a shot at a new crop of loyal customers.

All of this activity is partly what convinced Russ Crawforth the time was right to open his new business, The Mode Lounge, next to the Pie Hole pizzeria he owns on 8th Street.

“I think Boise’s on the cusp of growing up, or graduating high school,” he said. “I want my business to be part of that. ... I want Boise to be a nightlife people talk about.”

Crawforth confessed that remodeling the space and all the finishing touches ended up costing about 40 percent more than he’d wanted to spend, but everything in the lounge is exactly how he wanted it.

“It’s pretty exciting to see how much stuff is going on (in the area), where we can be a part of that,” he said.

Here are last year's Downtown Boise retail closures (red icons), openings (green icons) and businesses coming soon (white stars). Click on icons for details.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey

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