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Jan 9, 2014 11:49 AM

Walmart Kills another Local Business

For almost 30 years we've lunched regularly at Fortune Pavillion Chinese restaurant on RT 34 in Derby, CT. It originally was next to Caldor, which is now a Walmart. Was last there for lunch on December 30 with Wife and MIL. Restaurant was one of the last Old-School Cantonese restaurants in southern CT. Waiters in cutaway gold or black coats and bow-ties and classical Cantonese Chinese-American cuisine at very reasonable prices.
Wife and I stopped today for lunch to find Tony (the owner) carting out dishes and glasses and a paper sign on the door: "CLOSED"
Tony told us that after 29 years he'd lost his lease. Walmart has put pressure on the shopping center owners to force him out so they could expand into that additional 3000 square feet.

So, now we'll have what no one needs, a larger Walmart, and a hard working family will loose their livelihood and classic cuisine will no longer be available. Wife is a realtor and will assist Tony in finding a new location. I decided to drive a few miles to Target to get my cat food and cleaning supplies, I'll not be spending any dollars in the Derby Walmart.

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  1. You better pay with cash at Target

    1. I agree that it is just awful that Walmart is taking over this space. I don't support that store. But in my experiences with Fortune Pavillion was not good. The food was barely edible, the usual take out quality of no significance. They did make a homemade dumpling soup for 2 that was ok. The dumplings did seem homemade, compared to the factory prepared wontons every Chinese place serves. Yes those wontons are so cheap for a reason. What is really in that filling? Once the waiter was impatient and angry because I wanted that homemade soup for me, for 1, and he couldn't understand why I didn't order the lunch special that comes with wonton soup. I was willing to pay more and up the check and he was indignant. That was the last time, the food wasn't good enough to sit in the dreary dining room and suffer nasty service.

      1. As you know well, Bagel, satellite stores in strip centers pay significantly more rent per sq/ft than anchor tenants, but when an anchor wants to expand, landlords destroy others' livelihoods without flinching. Walmart doesn't like landlords, either, whenever possible they purchase their locations. I have worked with them, they are fair but shrewd negotiators.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Veggo

          Walmart couldn't buy this location, they bought the Caldor lease in the bankruptcy proceedings.

          In any of my dealings with Walmart as a vendor or landlord I found them to be shrewd negotiators, but never fair. Back when I made lady's nightwear for a living we finally had enough and told Walmart we wouldn't sell them anymore product. Our net profits for that year increased more than 30%.

        2. Damn! As a kid, my grandparents took me there back when Caldor was next to it. Far East in New Haven, and China Wheel in Hamden were in the dining rotation at the time, also of that genre, tablecloths, jacketed waiters, etc. A shame. Walmart was the 800lb gorilla, but I also blame the site owner for being bullied

          2 Replies
          1. re: BiscuitBoy

   you know I grew up in the retail business and dad had 15 stores. He had a problem at the end of a 20 year lease when JC Penney wanted to expand a store that sat next to one of dad's. The landlord said to dad, you've been a great tenant and have stores in 5 of my centers, BUT Penney's has stores in 90 of my centers and you lose. Dad closed that branch. 2 years later Penneys closed that stiore to move to a new enclosed mall. The former Penney store sat vacant for 5 years. Served the landlord right.

            1. re: bagelman01

              We shopped at your store (well Mom did, I was a wee tyke)

          2. plenty of empty storefronts and old restaurants within a few miles of that location -- they can't move to one of those and not be "killed"?

            Yes, moving an established business sucks, but if you're good and you truly are established (and 29 years sure sounds established), I'm certain there must be landlords who'd be happy to have a going concern move in.

            5 Replies
            1. re: L2k

              The owners are looking at other spaces. But there is a big difference between a shopping center location with established traffic/custyomer counts than empty failed restaurant locations,

              Furthermore there is a significant cost to fitting out a new establishment. Much of the equipment was affixed to the walls/floors/building and may have become the property fo the landlord (under the terms of most commercial leases). Other things were grandfthered under the building codes and would have to be done at a much more expensive cost in a new location.

              A shopping center drives traffic 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. A main street location might not drive any weekend lunch business or night business.

              1. re: bagelman01

                Very true about relocating restaurants. New roof penetrations for cooking equipment, vapor barriers to contain food odors from neighboring tenants, often increased air conditioning equipment, and parking requirements often are dictated by the number of seats in the restaurant which can impact parking for a center.

                1. re: bagelman01

                  I don't disagree, but now that they are closed, it is going to be much harder to reopen rather than looking for a suitable new location while still open.

                  1. re: L2k

                    Most commercial leases provide for several months near the end of the lease for both tenant and landlord to communicate an intention to renew, or not, so it is never a last minute surprise.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      In this case the landlord kept the tenant at the table negotiating the renewal until almost the last minute and then dropped the bombshell that Walmart wanted the space, you're out. The tenant's story is that the landlord wasn't acting in good faith, but there are more than one side to the story.