Just Curry to close Corner location
Last week, Just Curry owner Alex George announced on his Facebook page that he was closing his Corner location on Wertland Street in the 14th Street Parking Garage on Monday, January 12. He said nothing about his Transit Center location, which never re-opened after the holidays, and so many of us thought–including George, its seems– that that meant the end of Just Curry.
But George tells Dish that he has decided to re-open the Transit Center location on Monday, January 19, despite the “tough economic conditions” that forced him to close the the new Corner location; George originally opened Just Curry on the Corner in a space behind the Satellite Ballroom in 2006, and opened the Wertland Street location just five months ago.
"I had no choice," says George, pointing out that the first week of January sales were down 78 percent from the same week last year. "The Corner never recovered after summer," he explains. "Sales only went up 10 percent in the fall. After the election, sales went up, but just when you thought it was going to be good again, the students left...that was the last nail in the coffin."
George, a native of the South American nation of Guyana, left his job as a private chef for a wealthy local family to focus on the food he grew up on.
"My true love is curries," he told Dish, characterizing his food as French, Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Indian, with an emphasis on the Caribbean.
Indeed, in short order, his curries became our loves as well, replacing the smell of diesel fumes and stale air in the Transit Center with one that made visitors salivate.
George may have served notice of what was to come when he responded to a question last November about Mesob, the Ethiopian restaurant that used to occupy his former Corner location; we were trying to track down the owners to find out if they might re-open (If you're out there, former Mesob owners, give Dish a call, as folks are missing what was the only Ethiopian restaurant in town!).
"I can’t imagine anyone wanting or having the resources to opening a restaurant in this economic climate," said George. "Things have picked up a little at Just Curry since the election. I hope it’s not too little too late."
Still, George says he's going to try to make a go of it in the Transit Center, keeping it a one or two-man operation to see if he can "ride out the storm." He also says he plans to honor the Just Curry punch cards that customers still have. Meanwhile, he says the Corner location is for sale as a turn-key operation.
Less than two weeks into the new year, two Corner restaurants, Just Curry and Zydeco (which closed in December), appear to be the first local restaurant casualty of 2009, but they likely won’t be the last as the Federal Reserve predicts economic gloom and doom to continue for at least the next year.
As a result, restaurants are watching their bottom lines as foodies appear to be watching their pennies. For example, one long-time local restaurant owner Dish spoke to reports being "very disturbed and depressed" by something he'd never seen before in his 42 years in the business.
"A couple came in recently and asked to split a scotch on the rocks," he says, obviously dumbfounded by the request, "And it was rail scotch. I mean, I understand people wanting to stretch their dining dollars...but this was sacrilege!"
Indeed, while 2009 may be shaping up to be "the year of living frugally," let's not get carried way folks!
Updated 1/12/09 4:59pm