Thursday, April 5, 2007

Subway Newest Downtown Ojai Chain?

By Nao Braverman

A Subway sandwich shop is expected to open on the back side of the Arcade Plaza district, bringing about what some vocal community members have feared: the emergence of chain stores in Ojai’s historic downtown area.
Ernie Salomon, a Santa Barbara resident who has owned the building at 323 E. Matilija St. since 1989, said he contacted the Subway corporation after seven sandwich shops and delis he rented the space to flopped in a span of about 10 years.
When Salomon purchased the building the space housed an antique and vintage shop that went out of business. After that he rented to an affordable locally owned sandwich shop called Friends which went out of business and then sandwich shop after sandwich shop failed until he was fed up.
“The local people had difficulty making it there,” said Salomon. “We had a friend in Solvang who owned a Subway that was doing pretty well so I decided to contact the company.”
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Anonymous said...

We have been talking about this on The Ojai Post all day, including Ernest Soloman. Allot of people are disappointed by this revelation at the Ojai Post. As Mr. Soloman said, time will tell who was right and who was wrong. Concerning if Ojai will support subway.

The sad truth is there is always some who will frequent places such as Subway, by ignorance, by conditioning, by chance and dare say by choice.

The bottom line is Subway has 'deep pockets' that guarantees rent payment. It also guarantees a routine(boring) experience in an exceptional Township.

To protect Ojai from becoming another boring/routine experience, we need to promote our better local businesses such as Giorgios, Ojai Pizza and the rest.We have so many good enterprises here for such a small town and we need to let it be known in tourist brochures made available at any newsstand and the very businesses them selves promoting each other.

Also on a personal level as well, we can direct tourist and other locals to the very businesses we prefer to frequent ourselves. By this we are protecting those proprietors lively-hood, guaranteeing them to be there for ourselves and family.

But the issue of more franchises in Ojai needs Leadership from our City Council, as well as many other issues such as the creation of The Ojai Municipal Water District, but that's another story.

Anonymous said...

The City Manager serves at the pleasure of the Council and they need to do their jobs!

Anonymous said...

Whatever the council is doing is too little too late. They sued a person for trying to deal with this issue in the last election. It's time for another initiative to be submitted and fix this problem for good.

Anonymous said...

I truly do not understand the negativity toward any "chain" store as long as they follow the rules ALREADY in place. So why are we trying to draw the line all of a sudden, after YEARS of having a Chevron gas station, a RadioShack, a Bank of America, a Rexall Drugstore, a Medicine Shop, (in a butt-ugly buidling to boot) a Vons, A Wells Fargo Bank.... Seems to me it is better to have an occupied shop generating sales and taxes, and jobs for kids. And Rae Hanstad's wanting to change the rules quickly at the next council meeting REALLY slays me. The news has been of late that the city is finally digging itself out of the red and into the black must make her feel so secure that the city does not need anymore tax-generated revenue? The most recent city council meeting covered code enforcing of sign laws and how they cannot really afford to enforce the strict sign laws already in place. Maybe if we were a little more open to what kind of businesses we are going to allow we would not have so many empty business locations and we could afford more city services.
And come on, a little competition is a good thing. It keeps everyone on top of their game and really benefits everyone.fhb

Anonymous said...

To the above post: I truly don't want to insult you, but if you don't understand what people are upset about, I don't think I can explain it here, but I'll try.

Yes we have other franchises here and we wouldn't mind seeing some of them go. The fact is to operate a gas station requires hundreds of thousands of dollars with state licensing requirements, pollution controls. Ask any owner what they pay for the licensing of one pump. More than what some people would earn in one or two years of working.

Rexall and the Medicine Shoppe provide a service as does the Village Pharmacy(my personal choice) that again is hard for independents to compete without buying in bulk discounts and other aspect of sliding scale marketing. The Village Pharmacy is an exception in their market, and a is greatly appreciated.

Radio Shack is unique in the business, they have a niche that no one else will play in. If we didn't have the Radio Shack, we would have nothing in it's place that meet the interest that is in Ojai.

Von's, well Von's was originally a Safeway. Safeway came in with ready money to meet a demand that was not being met. We had Bayless, next to what was the Frosty. The original building is still there.The owner built what later became the Starr Market after the deaths of first Mr. Bayless then years later his wife Sarah. I know he is up there waiting to collect for all those apples my friends and I 'borrowed' from his outdoor bins. I would prefer to have Von's go independent, so the big bucks would stay in Ojai.

As for BoA and Wells Fargo, to me, there is no explaining why these sycophants are in Ojai. Their business practices are disturbing to me, and I would advise others to move their accounts to another local institution. I would like to see them bleed from lack of community support.

But where we citizens can take a stand against the homogenization of our daily lives, and keep Ojai as a unique experience for the tourists,which is where most of our city's budget comes from, which we found out how dependent we are over the last 3 years, we must.

Ojai has some great and exciting businesses that are so because they are independent, owned by local citizens who spend their money here in Ojai. The revenues are not being syphoned off to some other part of the country. We all benefit by this synergy.

Anonymous said...

I am sitting here almost falling off my chair laughing at the above post offering up excuses for all the existing "chains" in Ojai. The last paragraph is really amusing to me referring to all of the people being able to spend their money in Ojai. How many of you out there in Blog-Land shop at Trader Joe's. How many times do you see someone there who, if you do not actually know them, at least recognize them as someone from Ojai. How many of you have said gee, I wish TJ's would take up in the old bowling alley building. C'mon...fess up!

Anonymous said...

To above: It certainly was not my intent to amuse anyone, but for some reason I get some satisfaction that I have nearly got you to fall off your chair.LOL.
However, you may call them excuses, I'll take that, but add that those franchises are there for the reasons I stated, no other, and it was for the benefit of those who are trying to actually understand the contradiction of their existence, the support that they get, against the backdrop of those in Ojai who want to stop the continuing homogenization of a home they chose because it is not like other towns in the region, for that matter the rest of U.S..Have you seen what is going on in Fillmore? I don't want that here.
To your 'fess up' comment. You are absolutely right. I don't know of anyone who does not use a franchise in Ventura, myself included. Clearly there are advantages to franchises, otherwise they wouldn't exist. But does that mean I want them in Ojai. I like to think my friends come here to visit me, but I know in part, it's because they want to get out of McTown and see something that is unique to this part of California.
The independent businesses that are here in Ojai do spend there money here.I'm sure that they will spend money elsewhere. We are not against the dynamics that are in play, we just want to influence it.

Anonymous said...

I work in the building that subway is coming to and where Ernie Solomon claims we are "excited" about the news of subway.
This was not said. There is no excitment lets say great disappointment. I wonder why he feels he has to make up quotes that were never said.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect for Mr. Solomons right to rent his property to whom ever he chooses. I am a tenant and am definatly not "ecstatic" about Subway moving into the building.
I appreciate Mr Solomons concern for the "working people" of Ojai and i am one of those people and still want fresh, nutrious food.
I am planning on voting with my wallet I will not be eating at Subway.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that Mira Monte Quiznos is biting the dust in two weeks.I wonder what is lined up for it's site. I'll will be, have been, voting with my wallet as well. That is I suspect why Quiznos is leaving.

Anonymous said...

I would like an update from Citizens for a Chain Free Ojai. What have your learned and when is your next meeting? Is Mr. Klaif still your chairman?

Church of the Living Chapstick said...

Here are stickers u that have been put up in town:
No Chains -Stenciled
No Chains- Arcade

John Crowley said...

12 comments, and no one has mentioned the most significant piece of information in this article: " sandwich shops and delis (in this location)flopped in a span of about 10 years."

7 flops!

Ojai is exceptional, but there is not a limitless amount of independent entrepreneurs waiting for a chance to try where seven others failed. Empty storefronts and failing businesses also say something about Ojai.

Howie's was ok when Howie was there, but when he wasn't the kids were rude and gave horrible service. One girl wiped her nose with her sleeve, and then handed me my change; that was the last time I went back.

Anonymous said...

J.C.: Your point is well taken. When those buildings were built at Matilija and Montgomery and later the other businesses, I wondered if Ojai could actually support all of them, even with the tourist trade. I don't think Subway has a chance at succeeding there either. If Ernest really wants an eatery so bad there, he needs to improve his property in a way that provides the means foremost, then I think something there, by a local would have a chance.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, the original owner of Friends opened the business, sold it to Prem, who sold it to Simone who sold it to Howie. A couple of sub-leases, I think took place, but that was it. A "FLOP" would indicate to me the business closed or the owner was evicted, etc. It appears that the several owners of this particular sandwich shop struggled due to the circumstances Simone describes below. But as each one (I think) made a profit - I wouldn't necessarily call that "flopping" or "failing".

As stated in the Ojai Post:


Boy, do I miss Ojai. Never a dull moment!!

I owned an operated Simone's Luncheonette and Ice Cream Parlor at the site in question (from late 2001 to early 2005) and am so saddened (heartbroken, really) to see the business I sold to Howie fail and fall into the hands of a chain. I grew up in Ojai and the thought of a chain in downtown Ojai is almost a sacrilege.

I remember Ernie to be a decent man and landlord and I can understand his frustration with the turnover of commercial tenants. However, to be fair to those who struggled before and after me, the problem was not due to lack of potential customers. People will always go out of their way to patronize a place they like and feel welcomed by. And I would hope that, in my case, the problem wasn't the lack of quality food or friendly service. What made the business so difficult for me to live off of was a) the non-compete clause I had with Java and Joe (I was unable to sell coffee) and b) the inability to get permission from Ernie to put in a proper vent for cooking. So, a breakfast business was not viable without coffee and hot food, nor was dinner.

While I considered my shop successful (I had a wonderful customer base - kids, families, other business owners, neighboring employees, tourists, etc), it was just next to impossible to make a living with sales from only the lunch crowd.

I wish Ernie would reconsider but to be honest, I'm not sure how a "mom and pop" sandwich shop could ever flourish within the existing parameters.

Very sad, indeed!

Simone Davis

Anonymous said...

The big question looms: if 7 sandwich shops closed in 10 years, why, why, why would Ernie open another? Seems to me he should consider something besides a sandwich shop in that location. How about bagels?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above,

Read the message before yours. This business sold a few times (and the different owners definitely put their own spin on the place for better or worse) but never closed / "failed" / "flopped" until the last owner had to walk away.

And a bagel shop owner would definitely want the privilege of being able to sell coffee!

Anonymous said...

Okay, semantics, let's say "flipped," not "flopped," so if 7 flipped in 10 years, what makes Ernie think sandwiches will work on the 8th try? He'd have better luck selling toothpaste!

Anonymous said...

I get what you're trying to say.

I commented above and now only because we have a landlord here misleading people about the true situation (as he did on the Ojai Post when he claimed that all of his tenants were ecstatic about Subway coming in). To mis-characterize his former tenants as being "flops" as opposed to explaining the limitations to the businesses he himself has imposed is his way of justifying doing business with a chain. It's not right and it's not fair.

And I agree, I don't think Subway will succeed there either and after all this negative publicity I predict Mr. Saloman will have an even harder time filling his empty units than he does now.

Flip Flop said...

We're on the same page, then! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I moved here a year ago to get away from the "look" and culinary monotony of towns like TO/Newbury Park, Simi, and parts of Ventura and Camarillo. Sometimes when I am in a mini mall in one of those towns I forget which town I am in because they all look the same!!!

The charm of Ojai will simply erode with each chain store that is allowed to set up shop.

I have horrible visions of Mc Donalds and Taco Bell coming along next! BTW, I ate at Howie's several times and always had a good experience...

Anonymous said...

My gosh people. People's lives and mentalities are controlled by chain stores!?

What a pathetic way of life. If you don't like a place don't enter it. I came to see what Ojai has to offer from its citizens but I am not in the market for this. I will go to a local establishment or a Subway when I visit and remember that in a free country, we enjoy freedoms. Some people complain as a form if freedom, I choose. There is nothing wrong with Subway. Quit labeling others and get on with your lives and be productive!