The owners of V Fine Thai Dining downtown made it official on Thursday: The restaurant they operated for three years at 9 E. Congress St. and for six years before that near the University of Arizona was closed.
The announcement came more than a month after the restaurant actually closed in early May, the result of what chef-owner Redman Jarrell said was two years of trying to rebuild business lost to the downtown modern streetcar road construction project.
Jarrell, who owned the restaurant with his wife Vila Jarrell, said they and other Congress Street business owners were told the road work would take four or five months; it stretched into nine-plus after it started in early 2012, he said. During that time, business dropped dramatically and the restaurant was not able to make ends meet. He said they fell months behind in the nearly $6,000 monthly rent.
“We had a verbal agreement that we were abiding by. We were paying an extra $3,000 a month” to catch up,” Redman Jarrell said.
Jarrell’s landlord, Mike Perlman of Holualoa, could not be reached Thursday to comment.
When the bulldozers and asphalt trucks finally left Congress Street in spring 2013, and the roads were once again fully opened, the downtown entertainment district had gained a handful of dining options including Flagstaff transplants Proper and Diablo Burger, and Mexican restaurant Penca.
“There were so many more restaurants downtown. We went from maybe six or seven to well over 15,” Jarrell said. “There was so much more competition that once those streets did reopen, a little business started to pick up again, but it wasn’t like it was before.”
Jarrell said the couple hoped to boost business by extending the restaurant’s hours and introducing a night life aspect that included music. But that also proved to be a bust after residents of the new 1 East Broadway mixed-used housing complex complained to police.
“They were calling the police on us every weekend,” said Jarrell, whose wife did not want to comment for this story. “Vila and I met with them trying to do whatever we could to pacify them. We turned down the music, but you can only turn it down so much when you are trying to have a night life.”
Jarrell said the couple appealed to city officials to raise the minimum noise levels allowed, but got little relief. Recently, though, city officials have indicated they would be willing to allow downtown businesses to raise the volume from the 62 decibles allowed under current law to 85, which comes a little too late for Jarrell, he said.
“We were trying to stay open as long as possible and see this noise ordinance thing through, come to some sort of agreement,” he said. “Vila and I dumped everything we had into this business.”