Owners nix grill opening

The opening of Manchester Grill, a sports-themed restaurant and bar originally slated to have opened on the ground floor of the Silliman Annex last month, has been canceled, owners said Monday.

In September, the owners — who also own Pacifico Restaurant on College Street — announced that the restaurant would open this winter, but they later decided not to pursue the project. University Properties officials confirmed Monday that they are continuing the search for a new tenant, which will likely be a similar moderately priced restaurant.

The opening of the Manchester Grill on the ground floor of the Silliman Living Annex (shown here), scheduled for this winter, has been canceled by the owners.
Amy Ly
The opening of the Manchester Grill on the ground floor of the Silliman Living Annex (shown here), scheduled for this winter, has been canceled by the owners.

Manchester Grill co-owner Moe Gad said he and his business partners reached their decision for “business reasons” but declined to elaborate.

“We changed plans, and it is not going to be open at this time,” Gad said.

When the restaurant was first announced in September, UP officials said it would be designed to appeal to students and local residents with its sports-themed look, small bar and American bistro food. At the time, officials hoped that the opening of the restaurant would bring more foot traffic to the area.

UP Director David Newton said his organization hopes to find a suitable business — likely a similar type of restaurant — to fill the vacant space in the coming weeks.

“We are disappointed that the owners of Manchester Grill decided not to proceed but respect their decision,” Newton said. “We have several other interested restaurateurs who would do a similar style restaurant.”

Manchester Grill’s cancellation will leave the area beneath the Silliman annex vacant for several more months. The restaurant — the University’s first attempt to build a mixed-use commercial and residential building — was chosen for the space after UP drew on research from focus groups who wanted an alternative to the lower-priced restaurants that dominate Broadway.

The district’s only other mid-priced restaurant, La Piazza, closed late last year. Local Broadway merchants and city officials said that while they were disappointed that Manchester Grill would not open in the space, they did not believe that either closure is reflective of a larger business trend in the Broadway District.

Bulldog Burrito owner Jason Congdon said his restaurant and others in the Broadway District experienced a good year.

“I don’t think we should jump to conclusions regarding the state of restaurants in the area,” he said. “2006 was a very good year for Bulldog Burrito, and I know other restaurants who have had a very good year as well.”

Scott Healy, the executive director of Town Green Special Services District, said it is wrong to draw any conclusions from isolated restaurant closures when so many new restaurants continue to open throughout the city. It is currently very difficult for an Elm City restaurant to cater to a student population because of the significant rise in rents the city has experienced in the past years, he said.

“It is particularly challenging for the college-oriented restaurants … in a city that has seen rent in retail space rise so quickly,” Healy said. “We went from having 70 vacancies [in the town green special services district] in 1996 to a handful now.”

Phoebe Rounds ’07, who lives in the annex space, said she had not intended to go to Manchester Grill but is disappointed the restaurant will not open, and she hopes the University will find locally owned businesses to fill its vacant spaces.

“It’s unfortunate that there seems to be a lot of vacant retail spaces downtown, and I hope University Properties can find businesses that can afford the space,” she said.

William Derry ’07, a Davenport senior, said he was looking forward to Manchester Grill, as it would have provided students with a nearby bar to watch sports over a drink.

“It probably could have been good for the Super Bowl or something like that,” he said. “It would have been a welcome addition to the area.”

But Kate Lewandowski ’07, another Davenport senior, said she does not think students will be too disappointed by the closure, as the city already offers a wide variety of evening destinations for students to enjoy.

“There are different places around that students tend towards depending on their tastes,” she said.

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