“Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” Maybe someone should put a sign on top of the Lamar Union warning future tenants. The new development has had a tough run. First Cantine closed after about a two-year run. In recent months El Burro from the Vox Table team closed, lasting only six months. And now the market, beer-and-wine bar and deli Delicious has closed. Though its Facebook post notes the closure is temporary, the store had a clearance sale over the weekend. We will keep you posted as things develop.
The Lamar Union complex has become emblematic of the difficulty many mixed-use developments have in fostering successful ground-floor restaurants and retail. If you want a striking example, just look at Shake Shack. I’d never seen a Shake Shack without a line until this one came along. I would wager it has one of the lowest sales-per-square foot operations of any Shake Shack in the country, though the company, unlike the small businesses that have opened at the Lamar Union, has enough money to throw at what must be fairly steep rents.
With Lamar (and many of Ausitn’s major thoroughfares) not being huge foot-traffic zones, along with high rents, some misreading of the market by operators, and Austinites’ disinterest in parking in a parking garage and making the walk back to a restaurant, the math seems to have been stacked against Lamar Union thus far.
A sushi restaurant from the family who owns Northwest Austin restaurant Soto plans to open in the former Cantine space later this year. We will see if they can stem the tide.