Retail Roundup: Szechuan at Towne Square closes citing competition from Hibachi; Bride’s House has new owner, new name, new focus
A Chinese restaurant that had a presence at Towne Square Shopping Center for more than 10 years has closed, citing competition from a large Chinese and Japanese buffet that opened across the street more than a year ago.
Szechuan Restaurant closed its doors June 30.
“We tried our best over the year and a half and we couldn’t continue,” owner Kevin Chen said.
Chen said he renewed his lease, which included a 10 percent rent increase, for another five years in November 2010 only to see the Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet sign installed a month later at the shopping plaza across the street.
Chen was upset that the landlord of both shopping centers, New York-based Towne Square LLC, didn’t tell him about the new restaurant when he was negotiating the new lease.
Chen said he tried to work with the landlord to negotiate a lower rent but was unsuccessful.
He also lowered his prices and offered promotions to draw in customers, but ultimately his 4,000-square-foot restaurant and its 50 buffet selections couldn’t compete with Hibachi’s 11,000-square-foot space and 250 selections.
Chen tried to sell the business before closing the doors, but the presence of Hibachi scared away potential buyers, he said.
The Szechuan on Bernard Drive near Tanglewood Mall remains open. Chen and his family do not operate the Szechuan in Salem on Electric Road.
Also in the column, a Roanoke bridal store that opened more than 50 years ago has been sold to a new owner who has renamed and refocused the store. Click here to read about Proms, Pageants and Pretty Things at the Bride’s House.