Gray’s Drug still a black eye for Dinkytown

Ben Bowman

Considering that they’re located on a campus loaded with spend-happy students, businesses in Dinkytown and Stadium Village should be sure things.
As the closed-down Gray’s Campus Drug store in Dinkytown attests, there’s never a sure thing when it comes to business.
Clark Miller, a realtor with Coldwell Banker, said interest in the space has been high. He said he is confident it will lease soon, despite the fact that the site has been vacant for more than a year. Likely occupants include restaurants, music stores and retail shops.
Miller was unwilling to comment on specific names of businesses interested in the property.
The Gray’s Campus Drug space, like most Dinkytown property, leases for about $15 per square foot — about one-third more than the industry average.
Blank storefronts and other less-than-encouraging indicators won’t be around much longer, said Barry Bosold of the Dinkytown Business Association. He noted that the area stayed strong two years ago when construction problems slowed the flow of foot traffic.
The area will need to show a similar resiliency to stand up to competition from the nearby Quarry Complex. The development boasts Target, Rainbow Foods, Old Navy and Home Depot stores, all located within a five-minute drive from campus. However, Dinkytown still has an advantage in catering to students who either lack transportation or who don’t have time to venture over to the Quarry Complex.
On the other side of campus, Stadium Village is thriving.
The intersection of Oak Street Southeast and Washington Avenue Southeast has seen a jump in new businesses; the newest additions — the Chipotle Mexican Grill and the [email protected] Grind coffee shop — are off to strong starts. So far, managers report that initial traffic and sales have surpassed their expectations.
“The biggest problem we have is finding enough sit-down space for our lunch customers,” said Doug Kasper, general manager of the Chipotle Grill.
With his mouth stuffed with a larger-than-life chicken burrito, Nick Irmiter, a second-year Institute of Technology student, summed up the success of Chipotle: “The food here is good. It’s different.”
At the [email protected] Grind, located across Washington Avenue Southeast from Chipotle, owner T.J. McLeod took on a challenge when he opened his doors. His coffee shop resides in the former storefront of Bayou Coffee, a cafe that went bankrupt last spring.
“People are just beginning to check us out,” McLeod said. “We’re also planning on adding some bands on weekend nights to attract some additional customers.”
Already, McLeod attracts students by offering travel advice and information about studying abroad. Reasonable prices and the shop’s proximity to the Dinnaken House student apartment building also draw extra customers.