LAKEWOOD – Gone are the days of multiple empty storefronts at the Chautauqua Mall.
With the help of some key additions and expansions in the past six months alone, momentum is building at the Fairmount Avenue shopping center.
“We are fortunate with the retailers that have shown interest and are very excited with the additions,” said Cynde Breneman, Chautauqua Mall’s director of marketing and business development. “To finally have things happening that we work so hard for, it’s hard not to get excited.”
The latest business to sign on at the mall is Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which will be located across from Sakura Buffet.
Five Guys started in the Washington, D.C., area in 1986 and has since grown to more than 1,000 locations nationwide with another 1,500 in the development stages. The local Five Guys will be owned by Roc N Burgers LLC, of which Steve Christensen is a managing partner. Roc N Burgers opened its first Five Guys in Henrietta in 2008 and the Lakewood location will become its 11th in Western New York. The closest of those 11 Five Guys is located outside of the McKinley Mall.
“I’ve been looking in Jamestown for a couple of years now, and on Fairmount Avenue,” Christensen said. “There was some vacant land, but nothing came to fruition. People were either asking too much money or were slow to respond. I found that this would be our best option because timing-wise, we wanted to do it quickly.”
The Lakewood Five Guys will have an exterior entrance as well as an interior entrance at the mall and will cover approximately 2,500 square feet. The exterior entrance will allow the restaurant to keep its own hours, rather than the mall’s hours. Christensen said the restaurant will hire 45 to 50 employees by opening day with six full-time managers and 25 full-time positions as well as 20 to 25 part-time positions.
“We have a lot of demolition work to do because we have to break down a brick wall,” Christensen said. “It will be similar to the Galleria Mall’s layout, but not as complex.”
Christensen said what sets Five Guys apart from other fast food hamburger restaurants is that his company uses top quality products with no freezers in their stores. Five Guys only focuses on hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries and perfects those offerings without worrying about 40 to 50 other menu items.
Five Guys also stores the bags of potatoes and onions, cartons of peanut oil and boxes of peanuts right in the restaurant’s seating area.
“We show our fresh, great quality is shipped directly from Idaho,” Christensen said. “We have a potato board that shows every week what farm and city our products came from.”
Christensen is planning an early to mid-November opening at the Chautauqua Mall.
YANKEE CANDLE AND JUSTICE
Another new business opening is Yankee Candle, which Wendy Jenkins, district manager, says will open the week after Labor Day. The closest Yankee Candle stores are in the Millcreek Mall outside Erie, Pa., and at the McKinley Shopping Center.
“There was nothing located near those stores, so this was a good opportunity for us,” Jenkins said. “We are hoping it is going to do well. Candles are something people always enjoy and we are hoping to bring that to Jamestown.”
Yankee Candle, just outside the interior mall entrance to Bon-Ton, one of the mall’s anchor tenants, will be joined down the hall by Justice.
Justice, which specializes in “tween girls’ clothing,” has been open since February, and Joe Calimeri, store manager, has been pleased with the community’s response to his store.
“I told my boss when I found out I was coming here, that there are no specialty stores like this in the market,” Calimeri said. “Girls love the store. They love the colors and they love the environment.”
Calimeri echoed Breneman’s comments when asked about the mall as a whole.
“I like the momentum that has been going, it’s good for our local market, that’s for sure.”
HERITAGE LIVING AT THE MALL
A newer business that has already planned an expansion is Heritage Living at the Mall, which only opened in November of last year, but is currently working to double its size.
“Right from the grand opening, we realized there was a much greater need. Many groups were coming forward that wanted to be involved,” said Doug Justham, Heritage director of marketing and development. “It became evident that a space for 10 or 15 people wasn’t going to cut it.”
Heritage’s additional 1,200 square feet will include a wheelchair-accessible bathroom and a mock-up of a resident room at one of its skilled nursing facilities to help with nurse aide training classes.
“Talking about going into a skilled nursing home isn’t always the most comfortable situation,” Justham said. “Stopping by the mall and just talking is very easy. It is very non-threatening.”
Justham added that Heritage will be adding another part-time employee and a full-time recruiter that will probably be located at the mall when the new space is completed.
Even outside of the mall construction and change can be seen. The Olive Garden’s opening last year will soon be joined by Panera Bread just across Mall Boulevard near the corner of Fairmount Avenue.
“We are tucked away in a hidden market and people don’t realize we are here,” Breneman said. “Some people would prefer going to Buffalo or Erie, but many prefer coming here.”
Breneman also credits the enthusiasm behind the Lakewood Village Center across Fairmount Avenue as possibly helping the mall. The additions of T.J. Maxx and PetSmart attracted other smaller tenants like Fuji Sushi and Steak House.
“We have opened the eyes of other larger retailers and destination locations,” Breneman said. “People know them and they have a large draw.”
Despite all of the new additions, space remains available at the mall, including at the food court, which has experienced much turnover through the years.
“We have spaces that could be for physicians, insurance companies … perfect real estate for just about anybody,” Breneman said. “We have to adapt to change and be adaptable to the culture. You have to be willing to step outside of the box if people are interested.”