Adios crayons, hola quesadillas, Crown Center Shops has landed a Tex-Mex restaurant to fill the space once occupied by Crayola Café.
The new La Fuente Mexican Street Food is part of a reshuffle at the shopping center that also includes the expansion of Initial, a streetwear shoe and clothing boutique, and a new location for The Missing Piece boutique.
Those announcements, combined with an extensive overhaul of the Halls department store expected to be completed in March, are part of Crown Center’s response to what’s been a challenging time in the retail world compounded by the pandemic,
“It’s been tough,” said Anne Deuschle, integrated marketing manager. “Our shops rely not just on locals, but visitors and office workers all of whom have dropped because of the pandemic.”
To help retailers during the Covid slowdown, Crown Center has allowed more flexible hours and provided opportunities to close periodically, she said.
The recent holiday season was good at Crown Center, Deuschle added, with attendance at the ice rink doing well.
“We’re a favorite holiday destination and that helped,” she said.
The new La Fuente restaurant will occupy 4,000 square feet and is the Tex-Mex franchise’s third location in the metro. It also has restaurans at The Legends in Village West and Overland Park.
The fast-casual restaurant will offer counter service with dine-in seating and includes a full bar, according to a press release. Take-out and deliver options also are available, according to a press release.
“It’s not easy launching a new concept and opening three locations in the middle of a pandemic, but I love what I do and people are responding to this new street food concept,” owner Eduardo Garcia said in a statement.
Initial, which opened last February, has found a ready audience for its streetwear and is adding another 657 square-feet to its space on Level 2. The expansion is expected to be completed this spring.
Owner Ivan Qiu said the expansion will allow him to add a second shoe wall to highlight its collectible sneakers and create an “experiential area” where customers can sip coffee while browsing limited-edition books by streetwear designers, according to the release.
The Missing Piece hat and accessories shop moved to a new, more visible location near the Level 2 escalator during the holiday season.
And finally, artist Deborah Moreno has found a home of her own at Crown Center Shops. She had been sketching peoples’ caricatures and portraits in the shopping center hallway the last 10 years.
Moreno’s business, Deborah’s Art Studio, now has a storefront on Level 2 across from the Crayola Store where she’ll not only continue her hallway gig, but also offer drawing classes for children and painting parties for adults.
“My passion is painting portraits, and I’ve made a career out of drawing caricatures of people, so now I want to teach others to draw and paint,” she said in a statement.
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