No walk in the park

Naggy McGee’s is closing. Crossroads Liquors announced it was closing its doors last week. Recent visitors to J’s Philly Steaks on the Colorado Mesa University campus were greeted with a “Closed for good” note taped to the door thanking them for their patronage.

It’s convenient to point to the slow economic recovery in the valley as the reason behind the closures. Indeed, hundreds of small businesses have closed their doors since the good ol’ days of the mid-2000s. But we can also look to general churn in the food services industry. Studies of restaurant failure rates show that about one in four restaurants close or change ownership within their first year of business. Over three years, that number rises to three in five. And contrary to popular belief, franchises don’t fare much better than independent restaurants.

Edgewater Brewery, Buffalo Wild Wings, Which Wich and Costa Vida are a few examples of new stores that have opened in the last year or two. Meanwhile, two well-established stores — the Taco Bell on North and the Burger King in Fruita — are undergoing major facelifts. The owners of these establishments obviously had enough confidence in the current economic climate to sink some serious capital into their operations.

We can lament the closing of restaurants (especially if we really liked the food), but they’re not great barometers of the economic health of a community. Restaurants come and go to the tune of a 60 percent failure rate, giving rise to the conventional wisdom that making it in this business is no walk in the park.


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