The recession may be over for the strip of Broadway south of campus.
Five Guys, a burger and fry chain known for its fresh ground beef cooked in peanut oil, is set to open its doors in January on 110th and 111th on Broadway—filling a vacancy that has persisted on the block for over a year.
The announcement of this new tenant is a sign to some that the effects of the downturn may finally be wearing off, at least around Columbia.
“I think it’s a real good sign—the demand for space is telling us that while there was a bit of a slowdown in spending, retailers were still really positive in the future of the neighborhood,” said broker Jeffrey Roseman, who closed the deal with Five Guys.
“They’re very popular on college campuses and virtually, this is a campus,” he added.
Though there was a lot of interest in the space including from clothing stores, telephone stores, a local deli, and a high-end dessert spot, ultimately, Roseman said Five Guys was the most appealing.
“We were looking for someone who could utilize the whole space and understand colleges and the different timing of a college day. You don’t necessarily eat lunch at 12 or 1 o’clock. It’s a very in demand area, but Five Guys was one of the better users of the space.”
The chain offers free toppings for its burgers, which range from $4.99 to $8.59 in some of the already existing city locations.
Five Guys will fill the vacancy left behind by Jas Mart, a Japanese grocery store which shut down last June after the lease expired. A vacancy on the same block was filled by vegetarian chain, Maoz, in the spring and across the street Mel’s Burger Bar took over an empty commercial space this fall.
“The food people at Columbia at have so much success – Chipotle, Community Foods, Nussbaum and Wu,” Roseman said.
Students and nearby residents said they were looking forward to more choices.
Nikhil Joshi, a first year graduate student in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said that he plans on visiting the new burger joint, but hasn’t been dissatisfied with the neighborhood’s offerings. “I just moved to New York City, so I feel like there are a lot of options, but it could be helpful having another choice.”
“I’m glad it’s a cheap food option because it gets expensive around here,” Nicole Trifiletti, GS, said, adding that she’s looking forward to it even if she’s not much of a fast-food eater.
She said she usually gets her burgers at Tom’s Restaurant and may or may not make the switch over to Five Guys.
Vasilis Hristidis, CC ’12, said that he’s a fan of Mel’s and is not sure if Five Guys will do well. “Mel’s has a good bar and my frat and I have thrown parties there, but Five Guys seems cool too.”
Roseman acknowledged this, but said, “I think there will be healthy competition, but I think there is enough business for everyone.”