Matt Martinez III confirmed what has been floating around since the spring — the Lakewood institution that his father brought to the shopping center more than two decades ago is moving. The Matt’s lease expires in February 2012, and after that? Martinez said that there’s a reasonable chance he’ll open in a new location, and even has one under consideration — “as close to Mi Cocina as possible.”
The change has been confirmed by Hillary Artzt, who works for Mi Cocina owner MCrowd Restaurant Group, and who issued this statement: “M Crowd is excited to bring Mi Cocina to Lakewood and we hope to be open by mid-2012.”
Briefly (and I’ll have more details in my July column):
Matt’s had a 20-year lease, dating to the time it moved from the corner of the center, where Centennial and Starbucks are now, to its present location. As renewal approached, Martinez realized he would have to pay substantially more rent, and was prepared to do it: “I knew we had a low rent structure, based on what the shopping center was like when we signed the lease.”
The owners, a partnership led by W.W. Willingham III, put the property out for bid, and MCrowd made what appears to have been been the best offer. It included much higher rent (how much no one is talking about) and the promise to spend $1.5 million on site improvements. Martinez said he was given the opportunity to match the offer; he said he’d pay the higher rent, but that it didn’t make sense for his company to spend that much money renovating the building.
“I know this was a business decision,” says Martinez, “and I don’t have any hard feelings about what happened. I just have to do the best I can for Matt’s. We’re sad to go, but that’s business.”
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