Restaurant closure shines light on vacant storefronts

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Tapastrie, known for its award-winning food and wine, announced Wednesday that the restaurant will close for business on January 15.

Tapastrie will join the several already vacant business spaces that line the streets of downtown South Bend.

“It’s 100% up to the local folks…the success or failure of those businesses,” said Jeff Rea, President and CEO of South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce.

With the start of the New Year, it is time to save money after what Rea called the “Super Bowl” of shopping.

January and February are slower months, which means customers are typically not spending as much money, according to Rea.

For some owners, it could even mean closing doors for business.

Parts of downtown South Bend are booming with business, making it difficult to find a parking spot at times.

For some shoppers, a shortage of parking is all it takes to discourage people from shopping local and taking shopping needs to online favorites.

“Am I going to go downtown and hope there’s a parking space or am I going to Grape Road where I know there’s a parking space,” questioned Rea.

Historically, parking has been a reason why downtown businesses are not able to thrive, according to Rea.

Local shoppers said it comes down to how they are treated in stores.

“Probably the friendliness of the sales people, you know,” said Marvin Donnell, a South Bend resident. “If it’s a welcoming atmosphere and friendly, I’m more prone to shop there.”

Another common factor among shoppers is convenience.

“And right now, it just comes down to matter of convenience, which is unfortunate, but I think definitely we always strive to help out the community that we’re living in,” said Kaitlin Perry, a part-time South Bend resident.

Perry is a part-time resident of South Bend and said when she first arrived, she did not know what to expect until she visited Michigan St. downtown.

“We were far more pleased than I think we expected of moving here for the amount of local restaurants and local businesses we have here that are doing really good work with what they have,” said Perry.

It is important for business owners to reach customers where they are, according to Perry.

“You really have to, especially now that we’re in 2020, online reputation is I think paramount to a business’ success,” said Perry. “And if your customers can’t find you online, there’s a very good chance they’re not going to take the risk of driving downtown and looking for parking to either not even know your hours…not know if you’re open on Mondays...especially since a lot of these restaurants we found are closed on Mondays or closed on Sundays.”

Jeff Rea said the best way for businesses to thrive is for residents to patronize local shops and encourage others to do so.

ABC 57 reached out to Tapastrie for comment on the decision to close its doors, but has not yet heard back.

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