Remembering the Marketplace of the Midsouth

Luby's Cafeteria

September 11, 1997 - What the Mall of Memphis did for Luby's Cafeteria, it wouldn't do for just any business. But then, the 238-seat eatery is expected to draw significant foot traffic to the mall, a promising possibility to management, which is not resting easy at a 76 percent mall occupancy rate. The mall asked four tenants to relocate in the 16-year-old shopping complex - or leave - to create room for Luby's. Two moved, and two left.

October 22, 1998 - Luby's Cafeteria leaves Mall of Memphis Sunday a little more than a year after injecting troubled mall retailers with a dose of hope. The site was on a list of 14 locations Luby's targeted for closure after a nationwide assessment of the company's 200-plus cafeterias. The 14 just weren't making enough money. Mall of Memphis negotiated two years with Luby's, asked four tenants to relocate and spent thousands of dollars to build space for the cafeteria.


It is safe to say that this was the begining of the death of the mall... They did everything they could to help out, and yet the corporation ditched after less time than the mall spent trying to get them to come in, losing 2 stores in the process! :(

October 23, 2007, at 10:57 PM by Kurisu


MALL OF MEMPHIS MAKES SPACE FOR LUBY'S

Commercial Appeal, The (Memphis, TN) - Thursday, September 11, 1997

Author: Toni Lepeska The Commercial Appeal

What the Mall of Memphis did for Luby's Cafeteria, it wouldn't do for just any business.

But then, the 238-seat eatery is expected to draw significant foot traffic to the mall, a promising possibility to management, which is not resting easy at a 76 percent mall occupancy rate.

The mall asked four tenants to relocate in the 16-year-old shopping complex - or leave - to create room for Luby's. Two moved, and two left. Thousands of dollars in construction plans then unfolded for a 2,700-square-foot addition to give Luby's its needed 10,166 square feet.

``Luby's is a highly valued, major new tenant for the Mall of Memphis , said general manager Ray Baxter, employed by Urban Retail Properties Co., the mall management company. ``Doing a cafeteria deal in the mall - it's a very expensive proposition, but we had a strong belief that Luby's was going to help the center.

Two years of negotiations and plans paid off, and Luby's opened July 16 across from the ice skating rink and downstairs from the food court.

The success story is one Baxter is working to repeat.

Mall management launched a direct-mail campaign two weeks ago in hopes of drawing new business to the Mall of Memphis , the metropolitan area's second-largest mall.

About 30,000 leasing solicitations were mailed to local, regional and national retail players, said Baxter, who managed Hickory Ridge Mall prior to becoming general manager at the Mall of Memphis in May 1994.

Last week, Baxter said it was too early to tell how the mailings were received.

But it has been almost two months since Luby's opened, and Ken Rollins had hoped for a better start.

``Been a little slow,'' said Rollins, Luby's associate manager. He said the company expects to get the word out better with advertising.

The new Luby's was no secret for Sarah Millner, 71, who lives in an apartment complex near the mall.

``We had come in here a lot and knew it was opening, Millner said, who was absent her usual companion, her daughter. ``We just walk over here and make it a day.

Kathy Ellison, 41, made the 10-minute trip from her job to eat at Luby's. ``I come about three or four times a week, she said. ``I work over off Democrat. It's worth it. But she usually does her shopping on the weekends.

Hickory Ridge Mall, the Mall of Memphis 's closest competitor, has an occupancy rate of about 90 percent. Hickory Ridge is at Winchester and Ridgeway. Mall of Memphis is off Perkins just south of Interstate 240. Both opened in 1981.

The announcement of facelifts for Hickory Ridge Mall and Raleigh Springs Mall coincided with construction of Wolfchase Galleria at Germantown Parkway and U.S. 64. When the Galleria opened in February, it became the Memphis area's largest mall.

The malls are experiencing at least some retail falloff because of the glitzy, new Galleria, but the Mall of Memphis 's struggle pre-dates the upstart.

Baxter blames the occupancy rate mostly on a wave of retail bankruptcies in 1995 and 1996. Some stores left the mall.

But the mall has also had to contend with a scary image. It is located on the fringe of a community in transition.

On Sept. 1, 1992, mall shop manager 71-year-old Louise V. Warren was shot to death during a robbery attempt in the parking lot. Other violence in the area fueled fears.

Mall management in place then built 10-foot-high guard towers in the parking lot for security, but Urban Retail Properties had them removed after it took over management of the mall in 1994. The towers gave some people the impression that crime was a worse problem than it really was, Baxter said, and security forces were better deployed on the ground.

The towers were replaced with a courtesy-cart service, rides geared for shoppers with large loads and for elderly patrons. Two security vehicles were added to complement the existing force.

Improvements have bolstered the mall as a safe place, Baxter indicated by noting that there were no reports of thefts from mall businesses in August and that of the more than 14,000 cars reported stolen in Memphis last year, only 40 were taken from the mall parking lot. Memo: PARKWAY VILLAGE

LUBY'S SERVES MALL FOR LAST WEEK

Commercial Appeal, The (Memphis, TN) - Thursday, October 22, 1998

Author: Toni Lepeska The Commercial Appeal

Luby's Cafeteria leaves Mall of Memphis Sunday a little more than a year after injecting troubled mall retailers with a dose of hope.

The site was on a list of 14 locations Luby's targeted for closure after a nationwide assessment of the company's 200-plus cafeterias. The 14 just weren't making enough money.

Mall of Memphis negotiated two years with Luby's, asked four tenants to relocate and spent thousands of dollars to build onto the mall to give the 238-seat cafeteria more room.

A year ago, mall manager Ray Baxter was elated to have Luby's join the mall. Mall of Memphis had a 76 percent occupany rate at the time - its closest competition, Hickory Ridge Mall, was about 90 percent - and officials felt the addition would increase foot traffic and pump up mall sales.

Baxter called Luby's a "highly valued, major new tenant." Baxter's mood was downcast this week.

"To say it was a major disappointment would be an understatement," he said.

Luby's will be the latest business to leave the Mall of Memphis . Lerner New York, which sold ladies wear, had been at the mall since it opened in 1981. Its last business day was Sept. 26. Two other national retailers, The Limited, a sister company to Lerner, and Casual Corner, also recently left. The Mall of Memphis current occupancy is 67 percent.

Managers and retailers blame several factors for the declining number of retailers, which translates into fewer shoppers: shifting shopping patterns, safety issues and individual business troubles unrelated to the mall.

But Kenneth Fields believes competition, perception and economic problems can be overcome with proper management and lures.

"We used to have fashion shows here, right up here. Sidewalk sales. Car shows," said Fields, manager of the women's clothing store Nouri at Mall of Memphis .

Van C. Geroux said mall management company Urban Retail Properties Co. is doing all it can in a market where 4 million square feet of new retail business has been created within a couple of years.

"With any center, you have tenants who depart for various reasons," said Geroux, an Urban Retail spokesman. "Sometimes it's a case of the market being only so big. You reach a point of saturation."

Many retailers point to the Wolfchase Galleria phenomena. The Cordova-area mall opened in early 1997 with more than 1 million square feet of retail space, including four anchor department stores.

Figures weren't available Wednesday on occupancy at Wolfchase, also managed by Urban Retail.

A Luby's opened at Wolfchase in February 1997, before the one at the Mall of Memphis . There are three other Memphis Luby's locations.

"This one never took off. It stayed the same, not like the other one at Wolfchase," said Bill Sides, manager of the Luby's at Mall of Memphis .

The Luby's at the Mall of Memphis performed "below company average," which is about 1,100 customers a day, said spokesman Karen Sparks.

Luby's Cafeterias at malls were more likely candidates for closure, Sparks said. Free-standing buildings give the company more flexibility, and a company assessment showed customers wanted drive-through options. Luby's opened its first prototype drive-through last month in Tulsa.

Spence Ray, local real estate developer, said shoppers aren't as likely as a few years ago to go to malls anyway.

"You will find there has been a trend for most national retailers to go into power centers . . . an open area shopping center. People have gotten to where they're more specific shoppers rather than go and browse at the mall."

There's a slowdown in con-struction of regional malls. They are still being built, Ray said, and older regional malls like Mall of Memphis are the first to fall out of favor.

Demographics change: Income levels fall, the population ages, crime increases and retailers get out, Ray said.

The mall also has contended with safety perceptions. On Sept. 1, 1992, mall shop manager Louise V. Warren, 71, was shot to death during a robbery attempt in the parking lot.

"The security (is) better than it was two years ago," said Ray Hyatt, 60, as he wheeled his mother, Mildred Hyatt, from Luby's. "It (the mall) got a bad name." Caption: photo By Irena Pastorello Raymond Mott is in his last week as an employee at the Mall of Memphis Luby's, and customer Darlene Nelson will have to find another place to dine. The cafeteria will close Sunday, one of 14 the company is shutting down nationwide. Memo: SOUTHEAST MEMPHIS


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