A sign on the door signed by the restaurant’s owners and posted on the registers says the shop will close at noon Friday.
“Unfortunately, our most recent, current landlord based in New York was not interested in renewing our lease and preferred/desired a ‘national’ tenant instead. As local ‘mom and pop’ owners, we apologize and are truly saddened we can no longer serve you here after so many years. We tried our best working with the landlord, although futile.”
Uncle Harry’s owners could not immediately be reached.
Fig Garden Village was bought by Rouse Properties in June of 2015 and has been making changes since. The company emailed a statement, that reads, in part: “We strongly value supporting the local business owners of this community. In fact, as our current merchandising mix reflects, we take great pride in offering a retail lineup that features a healthy blend of both national brands and those that are owned and operated by business men and women from the area.”
Locally owned boutiques and restaurants have been succesful since Rouse bought the property, the statement says.
News of the closure was a blow to many of Uncle Harry’s regulars and the groups of friends who have been gathering at the business for years, some of them daily.
“I am heartbroken,” Mimi Mott-Smith of Fresno said Monday as she sat outside Uncle Harry’s with her beagle Rosie. “This place is not like the one at River Park. It’s a park setting.”
Mott-Smith comes to Uncle Harry’s about once a week and the workers know her order – a bagelwich with egg and cheese, hold the meat, on a sesame seed bagel – before she opens her mouth, she said.
She said workers told her they would get jobs at Uncle Harry’s other locations. The company has restaurants at Shaw and Marks avenues, First Street and Herndon Avenue, River Park and Cedar and Shaw avenues.
Big changes have been happening at Fig Garden Village since the purchase by Rouse Properties. For example, Anthropologie is getting ready to move into Fig Garden and will close its Fashion Fair location. The store is moving into space once occupied by Coldwater Creek and Heart & Sole Comfort Shoes. Coldwater Creek closed years ago and Heart & Sole has moved to a space farther north in the shopping center.
Paper Source, which store sells high-end stationery, wedding invitations and party decor is also moving into the center. Management has not confirmed exactly where Paper Source will open, but it appears to be headed for the Uncle Harry’s spot, according to a preliminary “concept design” document from the shopping center that was circulated last year among nearby residents and a committee that provides feedback to businesses.
Some of the document’s proposed stores have opened or will soon, including Madewell and Ariat. But not all of them, with Cyclebar deciding to locate in north Fresno and other retailers declining to say if they will open in Fig Garden or not. Soft Surroundings, which sells women’s clothing, bedding and more, appeared in the document but told The Bee it would not open a store in California in 2017.