SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - With the closure of 2 more restaurants along Shreveport's Youree Drive corridor, some are worried about the area's long-term commercial future.
The closures of Smashburger and Sake Sushi last week represent at least the 8th and 9th restaurants respectively to close in the immediate area in the last 2 years alone.
From Genghis Grill and Freebirds World Burrito to Krispy Kreme and Red Mango, the last two years have been brutal for restaurants along and Youree Drive, with low sales and high rent often getting the blame.
But before anyone begins to write Youree Drive's economic obituary, there are reasons to believe it's doing better than many give it credit for.
"You drive down Youree Drive Saturday night and you can't tell me there's not, you know, a thriving retail business going on there, asserts Dixie Robertson with the Home Builders Association. "It's packed."
Robertson told us she keeps a close eye on such developments because residential and commercial development go hand-in-hand with community growth.
She says at least some of the national chain restaurant closures locally can be misleading and do not always reflect what's happening on Youree Drive.
"I think most of the closings have been chains that were suffering nationally," added Robertson.
And consumers have noticed.
"We were just talking about how it just seems a lot of the chains and those kinds of things have had to go because there's so many different, unique things coming to town and it's just kind of been different," said shopper Emily Cole.
But on the bright side, at least 5 of the 9 restaurants closed in the last two years have already been replaced by new ones like Zaxby's opening in the old Ruby Tuesday building and Walk-Ons Bistreaux and Bar now operating where the Macaroni Grill once called home, to name but a few.
So, what would make people fear the worst about the future of Youree Drive? We're told if either Target or Best Buy were to leave that would be an ominous sign. But there is no indication whatsoever that would happen.