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Bernies Bagels & Deli Closing After 40 Years in Business

Walker Evans Walker Evans Bernies Bagels & Deli Closing After 40 Years in BusinessPhoto by Walker Evans.
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In a way, the writing has been on the wall at Bernies Bagels & Deli for nearly a year. Once Campus Partners announced plans in February to spearhead a redevelopment effort for several blocks of commercial buildings in the University District, speculation began to swirl about which property owners would rebuild, which would revamp and which would cash in and sell out to other developers.

Two months later in April, a sign appeared on the outside of Bernie’s showcasing the years “1975-2015” which some interpreted as a celebration of four decades, while others read the message like a tombstone. Bernies owner Tony Painter confirmed that it was a bit of both.

“We are certainly celebrating the forty years,” he said in April via email. “However, if you have read about the developments they are contemplating between 15th and 17th, there is a very real possibility that Bernies will be effected. At this point, we have not been given any definite word, but we anticipate that at some point, it will happen.”

Tony and his wife Roma appear to have held out for the remainder of the year, but then began posting semi-cryptic messages on the businesses’ Facebook page a couple of days ago.

“Couting down. Days are numbered.” read a message dated December 23rd. The final closing date of December 31st was later clarified in a follow up message on Facebook.

While the Painters said that they had planned on retiring either way, the original idea was to sell the business to a new operator who would continue forward with Bernies, just as they had done when they purchased the business 20 years ago in 1995. The building that Bernies is housed in is currently owned by Wellington Property Investments LLC, but likely not for much longer.

“We inquired to our landlord when we heard about the development plans and they advised that the building would be sold and that by end of year or first part of 2016 we would have to vacate,” explained Tony. “Edwards Communities is the entity purchasing the building and they wanted us out by December 31.”

Officials with Campus Partners have told CU in the past that they are interested in working with existing businesses if they have interest in relocating or renovating, but ultimately the final decisions are made between the businesses and their landlords.

“As the area is redeveloped, Campus Partners realizes each tenant will need to make the right decision for their business,” said Amanda Hoffsis, Campus Partners President. “Several tenants have already chosen to relocate before any construction work begins in the area. Campus Partners has connected businesses who have requested our help with area landlords so they can understand their options to stay in the neighborhood.”

Painter says that the assistance from Campus Partners has been nonexistent for Bernies.

“The only help we received from CP was a map of spaces available,” explained Tony. “We are talking with some prospective buyers that would purchase the name, menu, concept, etc and keep it as Bernies and relocate some where near on High Street, but there’s nothing firm yet.”

Currently, there’s no official plans announced from Edwards as to what may come next for the building located at 1896 North High Street, but Hoffsis is optimistic about the future of the area in general.

“The crossroads of High Street and 15th Avenue is the heart of the University District and the historic front door to campus,” she stated. “We are in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revitalize this dilapidated area into a vibrant and active mixed-use district that students, faculty and the entire community can be proud of and enjoy.”

Painter said that he agrees that improvements to the area are a good thing and that their space had “seen its time”, but added that the University District will lose out on the character that makes it unique if more businesses are lost in the process.

“Places like that are what I call oases, and the developers should have offered us the option to be a part of the improvements and help maintain some of the old culture mixed with the new,” he concluded.

CLICK HERE to read our indepth interview about the 15th and High plan

CLICK HERE for photos of all buildings that could be impacted by the 15th and High plan

Update: Additional information added to the article at 10:30pm on December 30th.

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