After four years, the Urban Spirit Cafe has closed their doors at 893 East Long Street in the King Lincoln District, citing sagging retail sales due to multiple factors.
“We endured an economic downtown, a wind storm, two break-ins, a loss of business due to water line construction, competitive interests and more,” says owner Charity Martin-Via. “However, the recent construction with the Interstate 70/71 project proved to be too much.”
Currently, the Long Street Bridge is half demolished, and the Spring Street Bridge is completely demolished and closed through November, limiting major access points between Downtown and the Near East Side. Multiple highway off and on ramps remain closed during reconstruction as well, sending vehicular traffic away from Long Street.
To counter this, Urban Spirit tried modifying their hours of operation, stripping down their menu and increasing their catering efforts, but Martin-Via says that the customer traffic on Long Street has simply decreased too significantly during morning hours due to the highway construction project.
“I’ve had the pleasure and displeasure in witnessing a lot of change to the King Lincoln District,” explains Martin-Via. “Examples of positive changes include the work on North of Broad, the renovation and opening of the Historic Lincoln Theater, the addition of the Original Book Suite, and the erection of the new Charles Building.”
But she cites the demolition of the Centenary Missionary Church and the prevalence of vacant lots and empty buildings as hindrances to community development for the neighborhood.
“Development is moving, yet rather slowly,” she says. “There is a need for renovated or new store fronts and mixed use structures.”
Following the closure of the cafe, Martin-Via plans to take some time off from the world of entrepreneurship.
“I look forward to spending some time with my family,” she says. “I’m a single mom and I’m sure my son will enjoy a much less tired mommy. But I haven’t taken the notion of a new location off the table, nor have I forgone the passion to educate and advocate for small businesses. I am still consulting for a few clients, and I must say that I am grateful for the support and am humbled by the experience. It has been quite a ride.”