by: Craig Lucie Updated:
ATLANTA - A northwest Atlanta neighborhood is trying to help save a new local restaurant from closing.
The owner of Bell Street Burritos said his building on Howell Mill Road may be demolished and replaced with an Advanced Auto Parts business. Bell Street Burritos just opened seven months ago.
The owner told Channel 2’s Craig Lucie he signed a five-year lease, but there was a clause that said the landlord could kick him out if another business wanted to buy the property.
He told Lucie that’s what happened, and now they may have to close their doors next month.
“We'd have to fire 14 to 15 people,” Matt Hinton told Lucie, if it became a worst case scenario.
Now, Hinton and the community around him are faced with a tough question.
“It’s simply a question of what the neighbors want for this corner,” said Hinton.
Many have made it clear. They like what Bell Street brings to their neighborhood.
It's a new, thriving restaurant about to be replaced with another automotive store on Howell Mill Road. But neighbors said there's no shortage of places to get your car fixed on the road.
“I think it's a shame. Bell Street just opened up, and it’s been a good addition to the neighborhood. As you can see, there are plenty of auto places in the neighborhood,” said frequent customer Darren Katz.
Another customer, James Will, told Lucie that Bell Street is a meeting place for his friends.
“It takes away a local institution and replaces it with something generic,” Will said.
Neighbors are also upset old trees are about to be cut down to make way for the new Advanced Auto Parts store.
“These (trees) have been here a long time, and they have character. It’s something that we take very seriously, and we don't want to see it happen,” said neighbor John Penland.
They take it so seriously that neighbors have filed an appeal with the city of Atlanta’s Arborist Division to stop them from ripping the trees out of the ground. They said it’s part of their strategy to stall the Bell Street demolition and hopefully keep the restaurant around.
Hinton said if he does have to move, he has some options that have opened up since receiving a notice from his landlord. Lucie reached out to his landlord and Advanced Auto Parts to get their comment and is waiting for a response.