North Texas Daily

Fry businesses see new and unique growth

Fry businesses see new and unique growth

Fry businesses see new and unique growth
December 01
23:53 2014

Samantha McDonald / Senior Staff Writer

From Crooked Crust and Pita Pit to Riprocks and Cool Beans, Fry Street is home to restaurant lovers, outgoing UNT students and Dentonites who are looking to escape the traditional atmosphere offered by the historic Denton Square.

Its cultural background and musical acts have led to the hot spot’s increasing popularity among both locals and visitors, who are more than willing to spend regular nights bar-hopping or coffee-sipping at the street’s various hangout joints.

And as the semester comes to a close, it is only fair to give Fry Street proper recognition for the businesses that have seen growth and decline in the last year.

Near Fry

Four restaurants currently occupy spaces at U Centre at Fry Street – international food chains Chipotle Mexican Grill and Yogurtland, Pizza Inn subsidiary Pie Five Pizza Co. and national restaurant chain Potbelly Sandwich Shop – all within walking distance from campus.

Lauren Garrison, U Centre area manager, said these businesses have been seeing high patronage by students and faculty and she expects them to stay on site for the long run.

“Those are active,” Garrison said. “We shouldn’t see them leaving for quite some time.”

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GRIP Mediterranean Grill still sits uninhabited on Hickory Street after being closed for more than a year. It’s next-door neighbor Pie Five, a pizza restaurant, is still operating.

On Hickory and Welch near Fry Street is a retail strip that features Asian cuisines Viet Bites, Sushi Café and Seoul Chicken. While these restaurants have made their way into students’ hungry stomachs, two retail spaces remain to be filled. Although the last storefront has yet to receive a tenant, a convenience store will eventually occupy the space closest to the intersection.

Retail strip owner Chai Tamprateep, who also owns nearby Asian fusion restaurant Mr. Chopsticks, said he is unsure of when the store will open, considering its stage in construction.

“[The owner] is shooting for mid-December, but I’m not sure he’s going to make it,” Tamprateep said. “But the other businesses are doing pretty good.”

Business lessons

Fry Street recently suffered two business shutdowns – macaroni and cheese bar All About Mac and Greek restaurant Grip Mediterranean Grill. These businesses are generally considered small for their few locations, which are usually concentrated in a single area.

Business size correlates overall success. Senior lecturer in management Michael Sexton said cash flow is the primary reason for an increasing number of closures in smaller or family-owned businesses in comparison with corporate names.

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A vacant space next to Campus Pub on Fry Street displays an application for a new business, Shots and Crafts, hinting at a creative place to grab a drink.

“What typically happens in a small business is people will owe [larger companies] on account, and they’ll take longer to pay the bills to their suppliers,” he said.

In Sexton’s entrepreneurship class, students often watch reality television programs such as Bar Rescue and Hotel Impossible, wherein they evaluate what works within a business and what doesn’t. Whether it’s the ambience or the service, a mismatch between offerings and customer expectations is what often leads to business failure, Sexton said.

“Business owners are often thinking in terms of what they want, not what their customers want, and that’s the problem,” Sexton said. “They create a club or a bar or a restaurant where they’d like to hang out, but not necessarily one where paying customers will go.”

Advertising senior Courtney Garza said this mismatch was what may have eventually led to All About Mac’s shutdown despite its uncommon concept and fun atmosphere.

“It might have been too different for people to catch on to,” she said. “It was rather pricey for the area, and college students like mac and cheese but often the microwaveable, cheap kind.”

Sexton calls this the old titanium rule: Do unto others as they wish to be done.

Management concepts professor Erin Welch said this begins with a defined target market and real advertising efforts.

“Building the crowd in an individualized college town with a unique culture like Denton is important,” Welch said. “It definitely sets you apart as a more local place that people can remember, and you can earn a bigger reputation.”

Integrative studies senior Nergis Tovi said the lack of advertising most likely caused the closing of Grip Mediterranean, which served some of her favorite near-campus meals.

“The food was fresh every time I went, and the staff was very friendly,” she said. “But for a restaurant a little further from campus, there was not enough advertising, and that was definitely their downfall.”

New openings

Two new restaurants are set to open where All About Mac and Grip Mediterranean Grill recently closed. Hickory and Fry, a craft beer and cocktail pub, will serve burgers at affordable prices while salad bar Salata will feature a fast-casual concept specializing in build-your-own salads.

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Hickory and Fry is a new burger joint that will take the place of All About Mac in the coming months. The macaroni and cheese restaurant encountered the same fate as GRIP despite rebranding.

While Hickory and Fry is a local, Denton-based business, Salata has established locations across Texas, including one in San Antonio and several franchises in the DFW metroplex.

“Our goal is to create a very different type of lifestyle, which is what Denton embodies in general, and keeping the Denton atmosphere right underneath U Centre, as far as the Fry Street location is concerned,” Garrison said. “I think it’s going to benefit us and hopefully keep businesses around in the long run that can be staples in the Denton area.”

In order for these businesses to last, associate management professor Anat BarNir lists experienced management, good products, a supporting environment and a decent economy among the elements to a “fertile ground,” particularly for restaurants within a college setting.

“Business success is a function of many factors,” BarNir said. “Any restaurant must ensure that there are sufficient customers interested in its product, that the atmosphere or theme it represents appeals to a large enough group of customers and that the business has the resources to sustain itself through possible peaks and valleys in demand.”

Featured Image: A view of the businesses on Fry Street. The landscape on Fry is constantly changing, catering to the needs of students. Photos by Byron Thompson – Senior Staff Photographer

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