Despite a recent outpouring of public support, Sarah Busse will be closing Archibowls on Monday because the location has been leased to another local restaurant.
Balhar Choong, owner of India Palace, operates the restaurant at 129 E. 10th St. He’s planning to expand into the neighboring space that currently houses Archibowls.
But Busse said the lease negotiation was not the only reason she is closing the vegan restaurant.
“We couldn’t reliably predict that the giant boost in sales would be sustained long enough to really actually save the restaurant and that we weren’t just kicking the can down the road a little bit,” she said.
Busse was behind on rent payments, but she said her landlord has been very helpful and supportive, working with her throughout the pandemic. She still hoped to maintain the space.
“I came back to the landlord, and I was like, ‘I think maybe there’s a chance that we could save it. Can we just try to stay another couple months and see if this boost can get us through? Maybe this is our big break,’” she said.
By that point, it was too late, she said. “So it was just kind of really brutal timing.”
Choong said he’s entering into another lease with Berkeley Plaza, Inc., subsidiary of Scotch Industries, which owns both 129 and 125 E. 10th St. Jeff Shmalberg, vice president of Scotch Industries, confirmed the lease negotiation.
Choong said he plans to open the new space by January or February 2023. He is keeping details of the expansion under wraps for now, but a background source said it could include an Indian market.
Busse said she learned Wednesday that her lease would not be renewed, but in the past couple of weeks, she’d been flooded with customers trying to help save Archibowls.
“I had to go back in the dish pit and cry a couple times, because it was just a flood of well-wishers and big orders and notes saying ‘Please don’t close’ and ‘We love you,’” she said. “And it was just — I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it. I wish we had known that it was gonna be that over-the-top, and maybe we would have reached out a little bit earlier.”
Archibowls remained open for five years, a feat Busse is proud of. During that time, she’s built connections and received community support that she said will help her as she moves forward.
Busse said she has no regrets or intentions of leaving the restaurant industry.
“I can’t see myself doing anything else, I mean, unless I get forced out for some cosmic reason,” she said. “I’m kind of trying to be open-minded and not really settle on anything, and also just kind of recover a little bit because yeah, it’s been a rough five years on me. … (But) I just gotta count my blessings. I’m still very healthy and capable, and tons of connections and support have come out of this.”
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Chansi Long (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from July 2022 through August 2023. Read more of her work for the Times here.