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Storrs Center affects local economy

By Stephen Skudlarek
On February 19, 2013

  • Storrs Center development brings many new options to the area and new competition. Local businesses have concerns. Troy Caldiera/The Daily Campus

While UConn students seem to adore the Storrs Center complex, the local business community may feel differently. The creation of the Storrs Center has led to an influx of eateries near the Storrs campus within the past few months. Eight eateries, including the relocated Husky Pizza restaurant, have been opened in the complex since its completion. Some of the other restaurants in the area are feeling the pressure of the competition.
Mustafa Cirkin, owner of Randy's Wooster St. Pizza in Storrs, says that while his restaurant is still doing solid business at dinner, lunch is not nearly as profitable as it used to be. He says that this is due in part to the eateries at the Storrs Center complex.
"We're sharing the lunch crowd between us and the other restaurants in the area. They've honestly opened up too many of these restaurants in the complex. As a result, there's just not a lot of business to go around," Cirkin said.
Some believe that Storrs Center is merely adding to already existing problems.
Shawn Comins, the manager of Sgt. Pepperoni, feels that if business has slowed down during recent months, the Storrs center isn't directly responsible.
"It's not so much that they're taking all of our business away-there's just a lot of food variety near UConn now. It's not like it was before. A few years ago, your options for fast food were basically wings or pizza. That has definitely changed; now there's a lot more diversity in what you can choose to eat in this area," Comins said.
Kerry Grimshaw, co-owner of Yukon Jack's Hilltop Grill, says that while she believes that the Storrs Center complex has been detrimental to some businesses in the area, she isn't worried.
"We're still getting a pretty regular mixed crowd of Mansfield townspeople and UConn students. Business was slower the first couple of weeks after the semester started. But it has picked up noticeably since then, and now we're consistently busy." she said.
So far, it remains inconclusive whether the Storrs Center is having a negative effect overall on restaurants in the Mansfield area.
Grimshaw says, however, that the influx of new restaurants to the area via Storrs Center obviously isn't making business any easier.
"It's just dividing the same amount of business that was available in the past between a larger amount of restaurants. All of the businesses in the area are getting a smaller piece of the pie, so to speak. We'll be okay, but other businesses may have a tougher time dealing with this new competition," she said.

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