Business Owner Evaluates Food Court Mall Plan | Business

Meli Blanco said that while staff at Nori Japan / Stir Fry have concerns about the effects of an outdoor plaza, they are delighted that foot traffic has increased in Central Plaza.

Nori Japan has been in the mall’s food court for 15 years and, like other retailers and food establishments, has experienced a significant slowdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, customers are coming back, said Blanco, a longtime employee.

Blanco said business has grown significantly, especially since Black Friday. The pandemic has been difficult for the company, she said, explaining that there were days when Nori Japan was open for six hours and would see maybe five customers.

“Our lunch hour now lasts two hours,” she said of the large influx of diners. “They come back.”

Nori Japan is located in the central area of ​​the courtyard, an area under discussion for conversion to an outdoor plaza. Blanco said she and her colleagues are carefully monitoring this plan.

“We don’t know the effect on the food court,” she said, explaining that while retailers would benefit from an open-air entry, she is not sure what that would mean for. food establishments like hers, where customers order food from the counter and then often bring it to neighboring tables in the enclosed courtyard to eat.

There is protection in that interior setting, she said, explaining that diners eating nearby could be affected by weather conditions – summer heat, winter cold, rain – if the food court became a space. outside.

Staff want to continue to build on the increase in customer base they see, which may be part of why Blanco is interested in other changes the new management of the mall may make.

For example, part of the reason for Nori Japan’s loss of business could be the now vacant cinema complex that was adjacent to their site. The restaurant benefited from customers who came to the mall to watch movies and then stayed to eat, Blanco said, adding that his employer would love to see the theaters reopen.

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