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Expanded Al’s Sporting Goods means sad farewell to Logan Burgers

April 25th, 2013 Posted in Arts and Life

By Jessica Sonderegger

LOGAN—Depending on who you talk to, the storyline is either progress and growth, or the little guy getting crushed by a big neighbor.

viewfromThe 500-pound gorilla in this case is Al’s Sporting Goods, which has bought a 10-acre parcel at 1000 North and Main Street to move from its current location at 1617 N. Main St. and build a 130,000-square-foot shopping center, including a 60,000-square-foot Al’s superstore.

And then there are the little guys: other local businesses who will have to move from their current locations when Al’s breaks ground on the new project, as early as next month.

Since plans for the development were announced in February, many of the other businesses have opted to relocate and set up shop elsewhere. But for one local eatery, this is the end of the road.

Logan Burgers and Sandwiches, a fast-food restaurant decorated with menu items ranging from gyros to burgers to seafood platters, has decided that there’s no choice between fight and flight.

“Most businesses are moving,” said Sam Driggs, one of the diner’s employees, “but we probably couldn’t afford a big move.”

Driggs and owner Manju Oberois say they would stay at the 1085 N. Main St. location, where the burger joint has operated for nine years, but they’re being “forced out.”

“I feel bad,” Oberois said. “[They] gave us no option.”

Loyal customers feel bad, too.

“We are saddened at the loss,” said Logan Foodies Facebook administrator Joy Brisighella, who said many customers were “hoping they would relocate like some of the other businesses displaced by the Al’s complex.”

Al’s operations director Jason Larsen says the sporting goods store—which started as “Al’s Bike” in downtown Logan in 1921—has needed more space almost since it moved into its current 32,000-square-foot space in 1997.

Self-described as the “oldest independently owned sports goods retailer in Utah,” the new “bigger and better” Al’s plans a variety of new features both for its store and for the 10-acre complex. The architectural drawings for the block include a “grocery” as yet unnamed, and new and existing retail and restaurant spaces around the periphery of the 10-acre lot.

“Unfortunately, there’s some negatives that come with it,” said Larsen, acknowledging the loss of some Logan businesses like the burger store, “but what we feel is that we’re going to make some positive contributions to that part of town and recycle some of the older space that is probably due for a little bit of a face-lift.”

Even Oberois’s supporters like Brisighella, who will be sorry to see the sandwich place go, but she sees the up-side.

“[The development] will be displacing many long-time businesses, but also bringing some new businesses to the area—in newer, more modern buildings that will give that area of Main Street a more contemporary and updated appearance,” Brisighella said.

But Oberois disagrees. Despite the aesthetic renovations, she said, it’s wrong to replace local eateries like hers with big-name franchises and chains. “I am the local,” Oberois said, “so I have to support the local,” arguing that Al’s owners should feel the same way.

“I have the best burger in the valley,” Oberios said, and “no money to franchise.”

It isn’t clear yet what all the other current occupants will do. They include Carousel Carpets and Fisher Home Furnishings, Shaffer House Bakery, El Toro Viejo, Tuscan Sun Salon and Logan Burgers; as well as Baldwin Optical, Valley Office Systems and Steve’s Carpet Barn, plus a Weight Watchers office and a blood plasma donation office.

El Toro Viejo at 1079 N. Main hasn’t decided yet whether it will move; its current lease allows it to stay in its current space for up to two more years. Larsen said that plans are being made to accommodate El Toro with an updated restaurant in the new shopping center.

“There’s a handful of businesses and tenants currently on the site that have long-term leases,” he said, “and we certainly respect their leases and we think they’re great tenants and we value their tenancy.”

Logan Burgers and Sandwiches was “mobbed” Monday night, according to a Logan Foodies post on Facebook, and Tuesday  Oberois closed her doors. Her original plan was to stay open until Saturday, but she said she and her crew needed the extra time.

She expressed appreciation for her loyal customers. “I don’t have any hard feelings,” Oberois said, “[but] we are very sad.”


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