“It was always jam-packed,” said Karen Rodriguez, a sales representative for K.R. Nida Communications, which has an office on the same block as the now-vacated restaurant site.
She often saw visitors looking for parking and walking to the restaurant, which had “good prices and food,” she said. But even the draw of the store’s menu and affordability was apparently not enough to sustain it at that address, where a string of other restaurants have failed in recent years, she said.
“It was just all of a sudden, it was gone,” said Jean Maluccio, president of the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We thought it was busy.”
Representatives from Tofu Village could not be reached for comment, but Kookhwa Lee, a listing agent for the property, which is managed by Dickson Podley Realtors, explained that rent eventually became a challenge for the restaurant owners, who had simultaneously expanded to another location after just six months of opening in La Crescenta.
“They were paying a lot more rent than the current rent right now because they were doing so well and there was no problem and if they were using their heads they would probably still be in business, but they were just overextending themselves,” Lee said.
While other factors may have affected Tofu Village prior to its problems with rent, its eventual struggles were not news to Foothill merchants, who explained that high rental rates have combined with the recession to put overwhelming pressure on some store owners.
Rent has become the main concern for store owner J.J. Jenkins, who opened American Folk & Fabric on Foothill Boulevard last year after she decided to sell a space in Arcadia and downsize to a smaller location, she said.