Three years ago this month, prime real estate in Newark’s downtown area came on the market after Kildare’s Irish Pub closed its doors.
However, despite the varied and consistent interest, the spot on the second floor of the Main Street Galleria has remained vacant.
The main challenge to filling the vacancy seems to be the sheer size of the space, said Jeff Shahan, the realtor representing the property.
“Currently, the space is 8,400 square feet. Its current setup is as a restaurant with a full-service kitchen,” Shahan said. “The combination of square footage and the fact the current and best use would be a restaurant – that’s a big [project] for anyone to take on.
Usually restaurants are around 5,000 or 6,000 square feet, he noted.
“When you’re taking on an extra 3,000 square feet, that’s trying on any restaurant,” he said.
Due to that, Shahan said the landlord – listed as Greggo and Ferrara – is planning to split the space into three or four units.
There’s no timeline yet, but Shahan said he would like to see it happen in the next six months.
“It’s always something they’ve contemplated, but the undertaking is very expensive to do,” he said. “We would like to have a solid tenant in hand to take off [on] the project.”
Under that plan, the space would gutted and no longer be set up for a kitchen or a restaurant.
“The landlord has seen many restaurants try and fail in that space,” he said, adding that a bar is rough on the building.
Indeed, the location has a spotty record of success.
Kildare’s opened in July 2008 and quietly closed with a sign posted on its door in August 2015.
“All good things must come to an end and unfortunately it’s time for us to close our doors one last time,” the sign read, without providing a reason for the closure.
Kildare’s had replaced Shaggy’s, a Key West-inspired restaurant with live music that closed in 2007 after running afoul of a state law regarding the ratio of food and alcohol sales. Previous tenants also include Main Street Tavern and Grill and The Brickyard, which was once the subject of a police investigation after the University of Delaware student newspaper reported on it hosting a beauty pageant that turned into an impromptu strip show.
With several smaller spaces, Shahan sees a variety of potential for occupants.
“We would never put in a competing business,” he said in reference to the hair salon, coffee shop, city parking office and eye doctor across the hall. “The diversity of tenant mix is a good indicator of what we can get across the hall.”
Interest in the building has been a “good mix,” he added, from institutional, to restaurant, to retail, to service.
“Things that service the local community, both the students and the residents, that’s what I imagine,” he said.
Megan McGuriman, Downtown Newark Partnership administrator, also sees a lot of potential.
“There is definitely a tenant for that space,” she said. “It’s just waiting for the right tenant. It’s a good location, a unique space.”
Something like a boutique, or a Painting With a Twist – the Suburban Plaza business where patrons drink wine and take painting lessons – would fit nicely, she said.
“Main Street as a whole is popular and has had great success with new businesses recently,” McGuriman said.
Mayor Polly Sierer said she wants to encourage more types of entertainment to come to Newark, like a jazz or comedy club, so that Main Street can act as a destination spot.
“It would be nice to have arts and culture for our Main Street so that when people come, residents or visitors, they can do things that are enjoyable to them – beyond events that already occur – rather than just coming to Main Street to eat,” she said.