Location! Location. Location?

Last year, I scooped the Des Moines Register (by a day) when I posted about the closing of the Mandarin's Beaverdale location. In that article I wrote:

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.

Turns out, you CAN have a successful restaurant at this location - you just need to relocate a loyal customer base from a restaurant formerly situated directly across the street. El Aguila Real seems to be making a pretty good run of it after moving into the vacated Mandarin space. It was packed and steady when we visited for dinner a few days ago.

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I do stand by my assertion that this is a bad location for a restaurant. A recent Examiner.com article agrees:

The new Mandarin Grill has found a home in Clive. Struggling with an older building in a bad location in Beaverdale, The Mandarin closed down and made the move out west of 80/35 to a new building in Clive, just north of Granite City. The new Mandarin Grill opened with not only a new look, but a menu that added sushi and other Japanese dishes (and even a little Indian food) to a pared-down list of Chinese favorites.

That El Aguila was willing to take over the Mandarin's space says they were committed to the Beaverdale neighborhood... and the economic potential of a location in the middle of a relatively dense neighborhood along a well-traveled street - in spite of the poor visibility and terrible pedestrian access. By relocating to Clive, the Mandarin traded in a location with poor visibility and terrible pedestrian access for another that also lacks a built-in community of nearby patrons. They will have to draw customers from a much, much larger area in order to afford the (doubtless) higher rent.

Note to the owners of the Mandarin: As of the writing of this post, Google Maps can't find your address - it puts 1250 128th Street up by Hickman. As a regular customer at the Beaverdale restaurant, I'm sorry to see you go, but probably won't be making the trek way out west to join you for dinner any time soon.

Note to the owners of the Rolling Wok Cafe: If you want to expand, there is a huge opening for a strong, creative Asian restaurant in the Beaverdale neighborhood! I wouldn't mind having one in the Drake neighborhood either...


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