RACINE — A combination of slow business, vandalism and reported poor cooperation from the City of Racine have closed the Downtown Subway restaurant after more than 30 years in business, the owner said.
Saturday was the final day for the Subway at 520 Main St. on Monument Square. There are currently no restaurants left inside that food court building.
“I wasn’t happy about having to make the decision,” said the franchise holder, Mario Denoto. “It probably should have been made sooner.”
The business had been losing money, Denoto said. “Business was down dramatically,” he said. “I couldn’t live on lunch and dinner (business). It was less and less.”
Vandalism to the building, which Denoto owns, and damage that was done to the bathrooms was always greater on First Fridays and large Downtown events such as the Fourth Fest parade, he said.
City concerns cited
Denoto said he felt a lack of cooperation from City Hall on two fronts. A few years ago he wanted to install Subway signage on the façade of his building.
“I couldn’t put a Subway sign on the front of my building,” he said. “The (city) requirements don’t fit what Subway signs look like.”
Denoto also said he asked to have parking meters removed from outside of his building, a request that was denied. “At least three times a month a customer would come in and say, ‘You were too slow, and now I got a (parking) ticket.’”
City Development Director Amy Connolly said she was sorry to hear that Subway was leaving. But she said in an email that the City has no record of receiving a sign application from the business owner and no record of speaking with the business owner or receiving an email about signage.
"The city offers concierge service for small business owners and we have staff ready to assist businesses with signage and facade issues. It’s our policy and practice to help business through start-up processes such as getting permits for signage. We also have White Box and Facade grants available to offset start-up costs," Connolly said.
She said she could not speak to the parking meter concern.
“Subway has been a staple on Monument Square, a great place for Downtown employees to grab a quick bite,” said Kelly Kruse, executive director of Downtown Racine Corp. “I hope a new restaurateur jumps on the chance at such a great centralized location, especially with the plethora of positive changes happening in Downtown and in our city recently.”
Now, Denoto said, he will focus on his other six Subways, all of them in Racine County. He said he was able to offer jobs at those other restaurants to all the employees who worked at his Downtown shop.
He plans to look for new tenants for his building on Monument Square and remarked, “Who knows, we might come back in a couple of years.”