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Bourbon Street Closes

By Nathan Forman

Saturday, Sept. 3 was the last day of business for the downtown Grinnell restaurant Bourbon Street and Voodoo Lounge. The restaurant, known for its Cajun, Creole and American style cuisine, was owned by Barmuda MMC, which opted not to extend its lease for the establishment.

Bourbon Street’s closure was primarily a business-motivated decision, according to Angela Harrington, President of the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce.

“What I know is that the end of the lease came up for Bourbon Street and that they have a lot of other locations in other communities,” Harrington said. “My guess is that when you have to go and make cuts, you close the locations which are the least profitable.”

Barmuda group operates many other restaurants throughout the state of Iowa. Their properties include Beck’s Sports Grill, Joker’s Comedy Night Club, Ferrari’s Ristorante, Mojo’s Pizza House, the ICE Ultra Lounge, Soho Sushi Bar & Deli, Wheelhouse and one other location of Bourbon Street. Barmuda’s properties are all located and operated solely in Iowa.

Despite the loss of Bourbon Street, Harrington does not believe Grinnell will lose restaurant traffic.

“Grinnell is a famous dining destination,” Harrington said. “We have 39 restaurants and that’s unusual for a town of 9,000 people. Our pull factor is one category where we pull at a 2-1 rate. We’re getting people from out of town to come to our restaurant. We pull twice as much income as we have disposable.”

College students are sure to miss Bourbon Street and Voodoo Lounge’s fishbowl hurricanes, karaoke nights and fun New Orleans inspired atmosphere. Marcus Zeitz ’12, a former restaurant employee, explained that it has been a good run.

“I wish I had started earlier because it would have been great to work there longer,” Zeitz said. “It was a really fun group of people to work with.”

There had been some speculation that a sports bar would move into the space vacated by Bourbon Street, but according to Harrington, that is only a rumor.

“[A new sports bar is] not [something] that I’m aware of but that’s something that we’ve talked about being a sustainable idea,” Harrington said. “But there has been no movement on that whatsoever. That has been very much a rumor and that’s an idea that has been floated around that would seem sustainable. But I have had no contact (with those potential leasers) and neither has the leasing agent.”

Because no new establishment has agreed to lease the property yet, the city is still open to propositions.
“We’re looking to fill that space as soon as possible,” Harrington said. “I don’t go out and recruit unless there is a downtown vacancy. So I am looking to recruit a downtown restaurant in that space, if students or faculty and staff have any suggestions.”

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  • J

    Jay FrankSep 9, 2011 at 8:52 am

    I don’t think Bar Yuppie’s–excuse me, Bourbon Street’s–closing is necessarily a bad thing. I mean, look at all those other Barmuda Bars! They sound like Chuk E Cheese’s for assholes over the age of 19. Soho Sushi? In Iowa? Please. This isn’t an outer suburb of Atlanta. Let’s keep it realistic.

    That’s why I propose we move a new Hardee’s into Bourbon Street’s old location. The current Hardee’s on West Street is not enough for one Iowa own of 9,000. We should even let them sell meat slushees and spiked Root Beer out of the basement lounge area.

    But, in reality, Bourbon Lounge was an oozing cultural sore in downtown Grinnell. Plastic, plastic, plastic. Thought it would close the day it opened.