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2 downtown staples prepare to close amid rising rents

Fred & Gari's and Total Juice Plus set to close
Total Juice Plus
Posted at 6:12 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 15:15:12-05

CINCINNATI — Two Downtown staples are getting ready to close up shop.

Next-door businesses Fred & Gari’s and Total Juice Plus have been in business for decades.

The man who started Total Juice Plus said his landlord asked him to move out, or move into an adjacent space in the building and pay triple the rent.

“Since being here for 24 years, it's very hard to have an exit plan,” said Joseph Mallat, who founded Total Juice Plus. “We don't know what to do.”

County property records show the property is owned by company 1W7 CARPARK LLC. WCPO called the company’s number listed on filing statements and it went to a fax tone. Total Juice Plus provided a cell phone number for the landlord. The man who answered told us the company had no comment on this story.

Mallat says his business is only earning about half of what it did before the pandemic.

Many Downtown restaurants are still feeling the burn of employees working from home as a result of COVID-19.

“You can look around Downtown and really there's not the foot traffic,” said Billy Watson, owner of Kitty’s Sports Grill on 3rd Street.

Watson said his restaurant is pulling in big crowds for Bengals games, but a slowdown during the week.

“Our lunches are almost nonexistent some days,” he said. “Friday lunches went from 50 to 60 people to, we're lucky if we do 20 people.”

On 4th Street, Deeper Roots Coffee has not seen sales drop off, but has seen customers' habits change.

“A lot of it has shifted to whole beans for home,” said Keaton Neely, Shop Lead at Deeper Roots Coffee 4th Street. “So we're seeing customers that we used to serve lattes to everyday now are coming in once a week for a bag of whole beans because they're staying at home.”

On Vine St., Mallat does not know what’s next. He’s facing the fact he might have to say goodbye to customers he has known for decades.

“We created a relationship with them,” he said. “We are like family.”

The owners of Fred & Gari’s next door did not want to talk to us for this story. Their store is set to close Friday.