A disagreement over lease terms has led one of Springdale’s top restaurants to pull up stakes for a new location.
Jose’s Southwest Grille, in the Ozark Center Point Place shopping center at the Highway 412/Interstate 49 intersection, closed Oct. 30. Restaurant owner Doug Allen said he did not renew the lease with building owner Mathias Properties, led by Sam Mathias of Springdale. Allen had leased the 7,000-square-foot building from Mathias since opening the restaurant in 2004. The lease in question matured in September 2014, and the two sides operated on a month-to-month basis after that.
“We could not find common ground on the lease amount, which I thought was too high; so I didn’t sign it,” Allen said. “We are easily the No. 1 [sales] volume restaurant in Springdale, so it’s kind of odd to have to do this. But I wasn’t willing to pay what they wanted.”
Arthur Thurman, president and COO of Mathias Properties, said lease renewals were discussed several times in the past two years. “In comparison to the original lease, proposed leases included rates and other contractual terms which were favorable to the tenant, shifting many building maintenance responsibilities from the tenant to the landlord,” Thurman said. “Unfortunately, we were never able to reach an agreement, despite best efforts.
“I am pleased another location has been secured for Jose’s,” he added.
Allen told the Business Journal the next stop for Jose’s is a strip center in Tontitown a few miles west, at the northeast corner of Highways 412 and 112. It’s called Casalini Court and owned by developer Brett Hash. Allen said the new space is slightly smaller, but will still have seating capacity for 150 patrons inside and around 75 on an outdoor patio.
The space still needs to be built out, but Allen hopes the restaurant will be open by March. He signed a 15-year lease.
As for the future of the former Jose’s, Thurman said he could not comment because of a nondisclosure agreement regarding the site. “I hope to be able to announce future plans very soon.”
For a matter of record — and because Springdale is noticeably the only major city in NWA without one — the Business Journal contacted Chick-fil-A to see if the company might be eying the location.
We didn’t get a confirmation from the Georgia-based fast-food chicken chain but didn’t exactly get a denial, either.
“We are constantly evaluating potential new locations for our restaurant expansion,” Brenda Morrow, a spokesman for the company, wrote in an email. “The Springdale market represents a tremendous opportunity to serve our customers … but at this time, we are still very early in discussions on the prospective location. At this time, we are unable to confirm.”
In all, there are eight Chick-fil-A locations in NWA, including licensed locations on the University of Arkansas campus and inside the Walmart Home Office.