CONCORD (KPIX 5) — Usually businesses close when times are bad, but in Concord, it’s economic growth that is forcing a number of long-time businesses to shut their doors.
Some call Todos Santos Plaza the heart of the City of Concord. In the summer, thousands flock to the Farmer’s Market and enjoy the outdoor concert series held there.
The businesses that surround the plaza do well, but Thursday won’t be a good day for the Bangkok Kitchen as owners prepare to close the Thai restaurant’s doors for good.
“Gonna be a sad day; be the last day,” said owner Peter Bumphenboon. He will close his restaurant after 25 years at the location because he can’t afford a rent increase from $5,800 to $11,000 per month that came from his building’s new owner.
His customers wish the future didn’t come with such a high price tag.
“Sometimes change is good,” said long-time patron John Kurylo. “But there’s a lot to be said about places that have been here for many years.”
The entire block that Bangkok Kitchen shares is also changing. On the corner is a Chipotle, not far from a new burger place and a vegan cinnamon roll shop.
While they are all fine businesses, they signify a lot of change that has taken place in a short space of time. While many are upset that the older businesses are being edged out, Mayor Carlyn Obringer told KPIX 5 there is not much the city can do about it.
“These are private leases. So we can collect more information, but we cannot dictate who gets to go into what space,” said Obringer.
But a citizen action group called Concord Communities Alliance believes the city has worked hard to attract new business with little regard for what’s already there.
“The priority is single-focused,” said Alliance founding member Laura Nakamura. “It’s money. It’s the bottom line and the decision makers are not taking into consideration how to maintain local flavor, local culture.”
But what really got people buzzing is news that another business, Half-Price Books, is also closing due to increasing rent. The word is Bank of America may move across the street from its current location.
But the bookstore is a unique draw for people visiting the plaza and many consider it a keystone business for the area.
“People can come here, get a book, go to the coffee shop and read their book,” said long-time bookstore customer Alex Yee. “But who needs another bank here?!”
Perhaps it’s the natural evolution of a city or maybe just a sign of the times. But Bumphenboon said that closing his beloved restaurant, while bittersweet, has taught him what’s really important.
“No, I’m not angry. I’m happy,” he said. “Because people support us. People show up. People love…who I am.”
The city says it wants to find both businesses new locations nearby. But city officials are finding that keeping Concord economically vital while holding onto the things that people love about the city is a delicate balance.