Every time I turn on the news I see some sort of story of a big corporation winning over a small group. Whether it is an oil company threatening to build a pipeline through an Indian reservation, or a major cable company taking over a smaller one, it’s in the news constantly. It’s frustrating to me, as I love to support small business.
And now it’s happening in my own neighborhood. My neighborhood bar, my Cheers, is getting kicked out because they can’t pay their rent. Normally people’s reaction would be “that sucks,” but this time around it’s different. People are pissed. Let me explain why.
I live in a quaint little neighborhood called Baldwin Park that was once a Military Base up until the early 1990’s. Since then, it has turned into an upscale neighborhood that includes houses, condos, apartments, restaurants, bars and shops. I lived here for four years about 10 years ago, moved out, and recently moved back in because I love the area so much. Everyone just seems to know each other here. If you go out on a Friday or Saturday night to one of the local bars or restaurants, you are guaranteed to run into someone you know, INCLUDING the owners of the businesses. You can often find the business owners in each other’s restaurants or bars having a drink. There doesn’t seem to be much competition. They all seem to support each other.
If you walk down New Broad Street where all the business are located, there are probably about 30 storefronts. The past 6 years that I have lived around here, there have probably been about 8 business that have stayed in business, two of them being major national chains (CVS and Publix). The other storefronts have either had businesses come and go, or have never been opened. Today I counted 10 closed storefronts. That is a third of the business here in Baldwin Park! Naturally, as a resident of Baldwin Park, I finally started asking around and just recently got more information than I really wanted to hear.
The Baldwin Park storefronts are own by a commercial real estate company called the Tabani Group. When asked about how business owners feel about this group in Baldwin Park, well…. lets just say they would be lucky to get served at any of the restaurants around here (and that’s saying it nicely). I have heard things like:
- They have hardly ever been here to see what Baldwin Park is all about
- They are slumlords
- All they care about is money
- They could care less if all the store fronts are closed for business
- We are just one of their many properties they own and that’s about it
I found all of this interesting because when you go on the Tabani Groups website and read about them they say things like:
- Our “People First” Philosophy views our team members, both individually and collectively, as the core foundation to our growth and success.
- We align our interest with those of our partners, placing our own capital risk on every transaction.
- We remain flexible and strategic in our approach basing our investment on demographic realities
If all this is true then why are so many business in trouble and closing on New Broad Street? Bottom line is they are constantly jacking up everyone’s rent to make it impossible for business to stay here and they don’t care how many storefronts are closed. This doesn’t make New Broad Street look very nice. Now you are messing with my bar…
CaddyShanks is one of the many few bars here in Baldwin that is run by two guys who don’t come from a large sum of money like some of the other business, but have managed to stay open for 6 years. That may not sound like a long time but 1. Baldwin Park hasn’t been around for a long time and 2. from what I have seen, if a business can stay open for over 2 years here in Baldwin that’s good these days.
CaddyShanks is not just your typical bar. It is an interactive bar with simulator games (yes, kids are welcome!), pool tables, pig pong tables, craft beer and wines and lots of high def TV’s to watch any sports team you want. The best part? The owners are always around so you really get to know the guys who are running the place and Chris and Charlie are really great people.
CaddyShanks is also SO GOOD for the community. Almost every day they bring in other small business through, local bands playing, trivia nights, and hosting meetings and parties for other organizations. The neighborhood Rotary Club meets there every week. They do not have a kitchen in their establishment but they have menus from all the surrounding restaurants that guests can order from. They will do almost anything for the local community and that is one reason why I am fighting for them to stay open.
This is why I’m frustrated. Two guys who managed to open a bar, keep it open and now they are being forced to close it down because of a big business that just wants more money. I was even told that investors would help out but that rent is too high and there would be no return on investment. Now does that tell you something? Oh yea, and they haven’t paid themselves in over six months…..
I’m not sure we as a community in Baldwin Park can do anything about this but I’m sure if you live here or even if you come in and visit like many do, you are sick of seeing all these closed storefronts. To know that there is a major commercial real estate company behind it that just doesn’t care about one of it’s own properties, is pretty frustrating especially with the amount of money we pay to live here. So maybe we can start with one business; CaddyShanks and show the Tabani Group that we are not just one of their properties, we are a community and we care about the small business in our community.
So what do we do? Do we email Tabani? Do we start a GoFund me page? Do we create a community event to support our local business? I at least wanted to get the conversation started. What’s next…
Disclaimer: I am just a blogger and a concerned citizen. I only am writing from what I have heard and seen. I have not spoken to the Tabani Group.