The Regina Leader-Post published an article in 2008 with Stu Rathwell, a franchise partner in the new Regina’s Chili’s Grill and & Bar.
Stu shared that his Saskatoon location would be open by that year’s end.
His optimism about the Chili’s brand was hopeful; if things took off as he was hoping, he predicted people could expect to see several more open across the province.
Fast forward to 2019.
If you happened upon Saskatoon’s Preston Crossing the last week of February, you may have caught sight of Stu’s dream deflating right before your eyes.
Beginning of the end
In an otherwise busy retail centre, the Chili’s stood strangely quiet regardless of the time of day.
The quiet closure last spring came as no surprise.
In June, an auction was held for the dispersal of its restaurant equipment. And then the building sat.
An active marketing campaign to re-let the space to another user began in earnest but no one came forward.
So what’s a landlord to do?
They arrived at a decision to tear it down.
There could be multiple reasons why a commercial landlord may choose to demolish a building once it becomes vacant.
Without knowing all the nuances of the Chili’s lease, I couldn’t say for certain why their building came down, but I can speak in generalities.
Often, and especially so in restaurant tenancies, a building will be constructed with a specific branding in mind.
I chuckle when I see re-purposed Pizza Huts for this reason. I’m not the only one; someone out there in the universe has dedicated a whole blog to it!
Very few can reuse existing improvements
But I digress, very few chain restaurants can reuse existing improvements and therefore the building holds little to no value for them.
In some cases, a restaurant may be constructed on leased land and therefore the landlord did not pay for the building in the first place.
Faced with paying minimal utilities and building insurance with no assurance anyone will ever have a use for the property could make the decision easier than you think.
The cost of demolition may be the more economical choice instead of carrying the property for an undetermined amount of time.
The landlord may already have another tenant and for the above-mentioned reasons, it doesn’t want the existing building.
I sifted through a Saskatoon Reddit feed that was already rife with theories including the long-discussed, but never confirmed, chance of an Olive Garden.
Come on, Saskatoon, we can think bigger than that . . . what do you think would be a good fit for the site?