The parking lot at The Promenade is packed, but the bustle that's helped other businesses succeed in this shopping center wasn't enough for two restaurants that opened within just weeks of one another.
Recent UC Merced graduates followed their dreams to open a gourmet hot dog shop at The Promenade, just four miles from campus back in October of 2011. At that time, the young entrepreneurs were filled with optimism.
Last October, House of Dogz Owner Perla Flores-Luna said, "We have UC friends, and they're just excited. They're like oh we're going to be in there all the time..."
Fast-forward 15 months, and House of Dogz is now out of business. California's first Mooyah restaurant opened in the same shopping center at nearly the same time and also recently closed its doors for good.
Former Mooyah customer Annette Garcia said, "It's just unfortunate because it seems there are a lot of businesses that have come and gone in Merced over the years. It's just sad that we haven't been able to sustain these businesses."
Mooyah's former owner also owns Wing Stop in The Promenade, which is still going strong after seven years. We spoke with Eldrige Johns over the phone. He says Mooyah failed primarily because the franchiser did not provide enough support or training.
The company responded with a statement saying in part "Merced is the only Mooyah Restaurant that closed in 2012 - restaurants close all the time, for any number of reasons. California is part of Mooyah's expansion efforts in 2013 and well into the future."
Meanwhile, property managers for the promenade point out several restaurants and shops are thriving here.
Amanda Gallegos of Heritage Property Development & Management said, "When one door closes, another one opens. We strive to bring in the best of the best here, and sometimes ventures don't work out the way you want them to, but we believe all in all the economy is bouncing back, and we're seeing a lot of people interested in opening up businesses now, and we look forward to creating new partnerships in the future."
The Promenade has seen other businesses come and go, in fact, a new salon recently opened in the spot where another one closed back in 2010.
Merced's city manager said he recommends that any entrepreneurs get help from the Small Business Resource Center before opening up shop.