It seems safe to say the owner of Charlie Bear and his previous landlords at Campus Partners won’t be dancing together again anytime soon.
Since the beginning of the summer, at least three properties in the South Campus Gateway have closed — Kildare’s Irish Pub, Charlie Bear: Land of Dance and Gooeyz, the latter two of which announced their leaves via social media recently.
Charlie Bear owner Ted Lawson said the closing of these establishments is directly because of the management of the Gateway by Campus Partners.
“It was a joke. We pay high, high rent and yet the landlord would never do anything to help us, and actually the landlord was our biggest enemy,” Lawson said. “People would ask me who my biggest competitor was, whether it was bars on campus or downtown, and I would tell people my landlord.”
Campus Partners is a private nonprofit corporation that works on community planning in the OSU campus area alongside the university and the city of Columbus. South Campus Gateway LLC is a subtenant of Campus Partners, said Amanda Hoffsis, president of Campus Partners in an email.
Charlie Bear revealed via Twitter and Facebook Oct. 24 it would be moving to a new location at 2885 Olentangy River Road, formerly Cadillac Boo’s, which was owned by the same people as Charlie Bear.
A Nov. 4 tweet from Gooeyz restaurant and bar’s Twitter account, @Gooeyz, read “Gooeyz is now closed. Thank you for your patronage and all of the Cheezy Love!!” Kildare’s, meanwhile, closed over the summer.
Hoffsis saw Charlie Bear’s move from a different perspective.
“There had been several safety issues and security instances over the course of the last couple of years … and certainly their inability to work with us in trying to address those led us to some of our decision, but they also owe us a significant amount of money in back rent,” Hoffsis said on the phone, referring to decisions leading up to allowing Charlie Bear to leave its lease, which was originally set to expire in 2016.
But other problems had been rising, and Lawson said there were a number of reasons factoring into his choice to move aside from the lease.
“I was told by (Campus Partners) that, in fact, they didn’t want Charlie Bear, because one, they don’t like the image. Two, they didn’t like the type of people I was bringing in,” he said. “They felt that the image that Charlie Bear was giving the area was not good.”
Since opening in 2011, Lawson said there were multiple problems with Campus Partners hindering plans and the management of his business, and called his experience as a tenant “horrible.”
“Anytime I ever wanted to do anything, they would want to tie my hands so that I couldn’t do it,” he said, including an example of wanting to throw a party in Gateway’s open outdoor space in conjunction with other Gateway tenants but being told he couldn’t.
Hoffsis, though, said some of those restrictions were ways to keep patrons safe.
“Our only issues were events that the Ohio Department of Public Safety suggested we ramp down,” she said.
As far as working toward filling the area again, Hoffsis said a business has signed for its intent to lease a space in the Gateway and there have been other interested new tenants, but several vacant lots still remain.
Lawson said he doesn’t think that will change until the Gateway’s management changes its enforcement though.
“It should be the heartbeat of campus,” he said. “(The Gateway) should be a real center that students should be able to enjoy and do whatever they want. Instead you have a bunch of mall security cops walking around watching everything you do.”