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LuLu's Moving

LuLu's Moving

Postby Happy Mom » Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:48 am

Lula's will be moving
Cafe owner notified lease won't be renewed.


MARKET BASKET

By HEIDI PRESCOTT
Tribune columnist

Steve Egan spoke to an introduction to entrepreneurship class at Notre Dame, his alma mater, earlier this month. He reflected on the 16 years he has been operating a popular restaurant near campus, describing the challenges of balancing business, family and fatherhood.


Unbeknownst to Egan, a new set of challenges would present themselves the very next day.

Egan received a notice that he says took him by surprise. The notice said that the lease for Lula's Cafe, located at 1631 Edison Road, would not be renewed and the restaurant must vacate the only home it has known at Edison Plaza by Nov. 30.


The owners of the shopping center did not return a call Friday seeking comment.

Rather than take a woe-is-me attitude, Egan decided to immediately surround himself with business advisers and friends who could help him plan his, and Lula's, next move. Together this team has been discussing locations, timing, space and financial considerations.

“I felt I was presented with a problem that I needed to come up with a solution for - quickly,” he explains. “It's hard to imagine Lula's not being here, but staying is not an option. There's no choice. We have to move on.”

The local restaurant, with its eclectic style and funky décor, has made a name for itself through the local music that is performed, local art that is displayed, and mismatched tables, chairs, couches and wall trimmings that make it one-of-a-kind. If you have ever seen an episode of Friends, Lula's feels a lot like Central Perk, only Egan quickly points out with a grin that Lula's came first.

While the former Chicago accountant-turned-restaurateur did not know how Lula's would evolve when he and a business partner opened its doors in 1994, Egan wanted it to be more than a place to eat.

“Lula's makes South Bend a better place to work and live, and South Bend is diminished without Lula's,” Egan says. “That sounds arrogant, I suppose, but I see the joy in this room every day. It's not antiseptic or corporate. It's homey.”

He sees students working on their laptops. Professors holding class discussions. Businessmen and women conducting meetings. Ladies groups enjoying lunch. Couples falling in love.

But Lula's has been somewhat constrained by its 1,500-square-foot space and small kitchen, so Egan talks excitedly about the blank canvas on which he can plan “Lula's 2.0.” It certainly won't be any smaller, he guarantees, and he is also committed to re-creating the same feel. He also wants to retain the same employees and core restaurant menu.

The question is location. Egan is not limiting his options or opportunities.

He plans to start looking at prospective locations this week with the hope of securing a space and relocating in time to close his current location Nov. 30 and reopen at the new site on Dec. 1. He's not sure if this timeline is possible, but Egan is not afraid to make it a goal.

He explains how he has employees counting on their jobs in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and he does not want customers to encounter a long disruption.

That said, Egan says he has received an outpouring of e-mails, phone calls and conversations with loyal customers since he recently posted a message on the door announcing the news and the time it could take to find a good fit for Lula's future - because it matters.

“You can be whoever you are here. We're around to help make the world a better place, no matter your race, religion or gender. Life is happening at Lula's,” Egan says, “and that's not going to change.”
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Re: LuLu's Moving

Postby st michael jr » Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:38 am

I've heard rumors that the corner is being bought possibly for the upcoming State Rd 23 widening from Edison to Eddy.
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Re: LuLu's Moving

Postby Buck Wheat » Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:52 am

A certain SB department head will be forced to find another lunchtime watering hole if Mulligan's is demolished to expand the SR23/Edison right-of-way. What's that? He already has a backup tap downtown at Madison Oyster Bar?

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Re: LuLu's Moving

Postby bob_rx2000 » Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:10 am

That is kind of interesting about the widening of SR23... What does that mean for the Linebacker, Soccerzone and Belmont Bev. operations. Rumor has it that they are just 1 year into 10 year leases on their buildings...
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Re: LuLu's Moving

Postby SeanD » Sun Nov 07, 2010 8:29 pm

Wow! I cannot believe this. Lula's is such a great place: coffee, people, ambiance, huors of operation, etc. But you know what they say: location, location, location. It seems that, depending on the new location, it may very well have to reinvent itself.

I don't forsee them moving to a new location and keeping the same crowd of patrons.
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Re: LuLu's Moving

Postby Happy Mom » Sun Nov 07, 2010 8:31 pm

SeanD wrote:Wow! I cannot believe this. Lula's is such a great place: coffee, people, ambiance, huors of operation, etc. But you know what they say: location, location, location. It seems that, depending on the new location, it may very well have to reinvent itself.

I don't forsee them moving to a new location and keeping the same crowd of patrons.

Maybe if it is close enough to Notre Dame.. :think:
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