DM Mandarin Restaurant Closing

After decades of serving Chinese food to Beaverdale and surrounding Des Moines area residents, the Mandarin restaurant will be shutting its doors at this location for good by Christmas. The owners are heading to Taiwan for an extended vacation from Iowa cold, and the restaurant business.

The woman who rang up my carryout last night said they may open another restaurant at a new location, possibly in the Beaverdale area.

While the Mandarin has been in our family's dinner rotation since we moved to Des Moines a year ago, and we will miss it greatly, there is also a planning/design angle to this post.

This is a picture of the resturant's (red) front door:

View Larger Map

I hope the owners negotiated a good lease rate, because this is a classic example of where not to locate a restaurant! The building, constructed in the mid 1970s, is situated perpendicular from Beaver so that none of the office spaces face the main street. Rather, they face the parking lot (accessed from Euclid, the side street). There is no planned pedestrian access between the sidewalk and the entrance to the Mandarin restaurant.

This design typology is symptomatic of the automobile era: rather than enhance the pedestrian experience and knit the building into the surrounding residential neighborhood, each building is designed to behave autonomously - as if the only way anyone would ever arrive at the building was by car. It turns its back on the main street, necessitating massive signage to direct cars into its parking lot.

The building is assessed at $209,000 - perhaps not much more than the average homes across Beaver from this development. It would not be too big a leap to say that this whole building could be razed and redeveloped in a manner more consistent with the pedestrian character of the blocks just south.

[UPDATE - I scooped the Register on this story by a day, but they also report that El Aguila Real will be moving into the vacated Mandarin space in anticipation of the new Hy-Vee store being constructed on top of their existing location.]

[UPDATE to the UPDATE 6/30/2010 - The Mandarin has reopened, but chose to relocate to Clive in another location with poor visibility and poor pedestrian access...]


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question tests whether you are a human visitor in order to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.