When Ernie's closed in January, owner Amee Simmons didn't want the space staying empty for long. She help line up Jack Brown's Beer and Burger Joint, a local restaurant out of Harrisonburg. Three months later, owner Ian Revereza says he is hoping to open soon.
"The quicker the better," Revereza says. "We do not want to keep doors closed too long, and we want to provide another offering."
Within the last year, several restaurants in Roanoke closed, including Tudors Biscuit World and Horizons. Months later, the spaces remain dark and empty waiting for something to move in. Price Gutshall, an economic specialist with Downtown Roanoke, Inc., works right next to Horizons.
"It is just a matter of time, working out leases, negotiations, kind of uses for the space. There is no concern with what is going on," says Gutshall.
Right now Gutshall is working on a comprehensive strategy with the city to fill the store fronts, looking at each space to find the right tenant.
Jack Brown's moving to the area shows growth is happening, and more stores will open rather than close. Revereza says Roanoke was the perfect location compared to other areas they considered.
"Roanoke just kind of jumped out at us," Revereza said. "We liked the downtown scene, liked how it is very local, bigger city, but small town."