Buy Dirt & Wait: Boise-area retail

Trader Joe’s to do business in Idaho

Trader Joe’s, the famous specialty grocer, has the go ahead to do business in Idaho. What exactly that means is unclear, but it adds fuel to a fire set off yesterday by the Boise Weekly.

Development plans are working their way through Boise City Hall. According to reporting by BW, the complex will feature a 13,000 grocer among other retail outlets on a plot of land at the corner of Capitol & Front (across from American Cleaning and diagonally situated from the Grove Hotel).

Boise Weekly:

"Here’s a hint. The leading contender’s initials are: T.J. Oh, heck, it’s Trader Joe’s."

Spokespeople at Trader Joe’s denied that they have any plans for an Idaho store according to reporting tweeted by Idaho Statesman photographer Joe Jaszewski:

And after a few questions from folks:

But SOMETHING is up: on September 12th of this year a company calling itself Trader Joe’s filed for incorporation in the State of Idaho. While another entity could theoretically file that name - this one’s address matches that of TJ’s HQ in California, and is signed by Sharon Drabeck, who according to LinkedIn is the company’s VP & Secretary. 

So what is the development going to be? Boise Weekly again:

"I’m not trying to be coy, but I do have confidentiality on this," Scott Schoenner, partner at Ranelli and Nahas Real Estate, owners of the land, told BW. "A developer made us an offer, which we accepted, and we’re going through the due diligence now."

Interesting quote, and not a denial (though Mr. Schoenner’s company is called Rafanelli & Nahas, not Ranelli).

While you cannot make a direct connection that this  a new TJ’s store in Downtown, or even in Boise, it adds a layer of authenticity to the Boise Weekly. But what of the Statesman’s reporting? A PR spokesperson could be misinformed, or could be trying to conceal facts until later.

What is plainly clear is Trader Joe’s plans to do SOMETHING in the Gem State, and now has the legal clearance to so it. Filing to do business in the state is usually only a step taken if you plan to open a store or kick off some other type of operation (a warehouse or distribution center, for instance).

H&M plans new store in Boise

H&M, the national clothing retailer based in Sweeden plans to open its first store in Idaho. The new H&M Boise store is planned for the Boise Towne Square Mall.

If I read the tea leaves right, it looks like Teavana is about to open in the mall…

If I read the tea leaves right, it looks like Teavana is about to open in the mall…

Dutch Oven on the move

A Boise fixture for decades, Tom Sweeney’s Dutch Oven Cafe is moving.

The kitchen/cafe opened in 1959 - and has been serving breakfast and lunch ever since.  The cafe is a Boise institution. It may not have the cachet of the Capri or Hawkins Pac Out - but the Dutch Oven has been serving up grub to locals for more than 50 years.

A Yelp reviewer sums up the menu simply: “Monday through Friday the menu is ‘breakfast’ or ‘lunch.’” 

Sweeney ran a one man shop. He cooked, cleaned, took the orders, served the food and took your cash.  The joint didn’t have menus, frills — or even a phone.  For the past several decades, the cafe has been located at Orchard Street at Denton (across from perhaps its polar opposite - McDonald’s).  

The patrons are usually an eclectic mix, consisting of  ”CEOs, judges, construction workers, jockeys, lawyers, tow truck operators, retired colonels” and more - all seated along a long counter.

That description of colorful characters comes from Sweeney’s obituary - he died in 2010. “Longtime confidant” Bill Carter took the reigns. Now, two years later Sweeney’s name will get new prominence - and his life’s work will get a new location.

The Dutch Oven will soon reopen at 1621 N. Orchard, near Fairview Ave. - an old home that until a few years ago showcased antiques for sale.

The restaurant’s front sign will also see a change - Tom Sweeney’s name will be added to the facade and a remodel on the building is underway. The downstairs will host a still-cozy eatery with seating for just 32 patrons - and one thing won’t change: most of those seats will still be located along a long counter. The second floor will feature a private two-bedroom apartment.

The Dutch Oven had to jump over a few hurdles to make this happen. Neighbors (all along Mountain View Drive and Bond Street) petitioned the city when the property came up for rezone from residential to commercial. The Planning & Zoning folks voted 5-1 to approve the rezone, noting that the Dutch Oven’s limited seating and parking made it compatible with the rest of the neighborhood.

Bye bye Perkins

A building permit has finally been issued to demolish the Perkins Restaurant location on Broadway. This will pave the way for the new Chik-fil-A restaurant planned for the site.

Businesses for sale

The business listings from Arthur Berry are always interesting. Some of them are obvious (or named), and some you have to read the tea leaves a bit to figure out what is for sale. A few of the items on the block:

  • The Bouquet bar. This has been a downtown landmark and has changed hands a number of times. I believe it is currently vacant, though still full of its fixed-assets.
  • Downtown Boise core restaurant. Sounds like it is on 8th Street and less than two years old in a 1,945 square foot space. Ownder moving out of state. 
  • Nampa Restaurant & lounge - $269k
  • "Well-established nightclub/restaurant" - $250k
  • "Passively operated" restaurant & lounge in McCall that is “Renowned.” Hmmm…
  • "Boise’s oldest flower shop." It’s an FTD outlet. I have a few guesses. Here’s the one-sheet 
Del Taco to the Bench

Drive through taco chain Del Taco (not to be confused with Taco Del Mar) hopes to add a location at Franklin & Orchard, on a pad right next to that Dutch Bros. in the Fred Meyer parking lot. Presently, Del Taco has three Boise-area locations: on Broadway, in Meridian and in Nampa. 

Erstad Architects proposes the plan below. PDS lately seems to prefer folks not have the drive-through lane wrap around the building next to the streets like depicted here… we’ll see what happens. (Del Taco on the right, Dutch Bros. on the left):

Downtown to get a golf course

Finally all those empty lots downtown are going to be put to good use! OK, not really. Idapro Indoor Golf Center is set to open in BoDo. The attraction will go in a 2600 square foot location in Bodo that has never been occupied before — at 333 Capitol Blvd.

The center already has a website - thought details are somewhat scarce. Idapro promises indoor virtual golf that will open year-round. The building permit was issued last month.

Dutch Bros. nears on Orchard

UPDATE: A grading building permit has finally been issued for the Dutch Bros. coffee location slated for the northwest corner of Franklin & Orchard (on a pad site in the Fred Meyer parking lot). This news was first noted by KTVB a few months ago, and work is now slated to begin any time…

Qdoba comes to Boise

After fielding a few locations in the Treasure Valley (two on Eagle Rd., and one in Nampa), Qdoba is set to open a Boise store.

The fast casual Mexican restaurant has secured a building permit for a location in the Ram Plaza at the corner of Broadway & Front/Park. Qdoba is owned by San Diego-based Jack in the Box, and this new location will compete with nearby Baja Fresh - located just over the river across from Bronco Stadium. 

(PS: it is pronounced Q - dough - buh…)

Cars by fiat

Dennis Dillon is adding Fiat to its lineup of dealerships at the Orchard St. location. Remodel work is underway at the 2495 S. Orchard dealership to house the area’s first Fiat dealership.

Dennis Dillion is also revamping its GMC showroom where Orchard St. & the freeway meet.

Will Fork get a Spoon?

BOISE - Downtown Boise is about to get another restaurant.  Cameron Lumsden filed paperwork with the City of Boise Monday to remodel a 1600 square foot space at 807 W. Idaho Street into a 67-seat restaurant.

Public details on the restaurant aren’t plentiful, by Lumsden plans to revamp the space with new floors, a new steel awning and by replacing existing windows with an overhead-door-type structure reminiscent of the nearby Taphouse.

The 807 Idaho space is currently empty, but last held a Palmercash T-Shirt outlet.

Lumsden has a pretty good track record - serving as COO of Flatbread Community Oven and then opening Fork about 15 months ago.  Fork (easily my favorite local restaurant) has been a rousing success - so it will be interesting to see what Lumsden’s group comes up with next.

(PS: The “Spoon” name is a joke… filings did not make it clear what the name or even type of restaurant would open… but if Liquid can spawn Solid… anything is possible).

A note

I haven’t decided how much “reblogging” to do - that is, posting what other folks already dug up. I’m mostly interested in original reporting. Unlike my former Idaho Radio News blog - which was the only voice in the niche, the retail development area is somewhat served by the Idaho Business Review and the Idaho Statesman (and to a lesser extent Boise Weekly and my employer, KTVB). For two of those sources, the information often hides behind a paywall (IBR and Statesman) - and most people aren’t going to the work to deal with that. When news sits outside a paywall, I’ll link to it. If not, I won’t.

Chik-fil-A delay on Broadway

BOISE - Last year, I broke news (here’s an RT of that original post) that Chik-fil-A will soon branch out beyond its current “Express” location on campus at Boise State. The chicken sandwich shop first plotted to open on Broadway on the lot of the currently vacant Perkins restaurant location.

But very little has happened on the site - and the Perkins restaurant still stands - albeit closed. So what’s up? 

Chik-fil-A won approval from planning & zoning despite objections from Green Star LLC (which owns the local Carl’s franchise) and Deli George - both of which are right next door to the new restaurant. Reps for both eateries stressed they welcomed Chik-fil-A to the neighborhood, but were worried about site design. 

Green Star appealed the approval - which slowed the process down. Their chief complaints are the design of the drive through - including its general lack of an escape lane and the way headlights would shine directly into the Carl’s Jr. drivethrough. The appeal went up to City Council.  The council ruled in favor of Chik-fil-A, but imposed a few additional design review conditions. Those restrictions are designed to help cut down on glare in the Carl’s Jr. dining room, but the escape lane issue is essentially unchanged (there is an escape pathway, but it does not span the entire distance of the drivethrough).

All the wrangling pushed the project back - and final design review came through in March, allowing the actual process of getting the restaurant built to commence…