In the revolving door that is 1926 Liacouras Walk, an Italian restaurant named Maxi’s opened on March 9, making it the third restaurant since 2002.
When construction on 1900 Liacouras Walk ended in January 2002, stores were assigned locations and store owners were able to work out different long-term leasing packages through landlords Campus Walk Partners. They are in charge of the leases and of financing any improvements to the property.
Temple owns the land that the building is constructed on and has the right to approve the tenants that come onto the strip. The University is also a tenant, with housing and development offices on Liacouras Walk.
In March 2002, the University and Campus Walk Partners saw the grand opening of its first store, 7-Eleven, located across the walkway from what is now Maxi’s.
A Pizza Hut was originally assigned to 1926 Liacouras Walk, but those plans were scrapped when the owner declared bankruptcy and the store never officially opened.
Since then, the building has housed three Italian restaurants: Cartucci’s, Sal Anthony’s on the Walk and Maxi’s.
Richard Rumer, the associate vice president for business, said that a change in format does not necessarily indicate a change in owners.
“I saw a picture in the paper the other day where underneath it indicated that this was the third group or third owners in the restaurant; that is not really accurate,” Rumer said.
“Luciano Lombardi is the owner, or tenant, in that space. He opened first under the name of Cartucci’s and then he took on a partner and took on Sal Anthony’s on the Walk, but never really liked that concept. … The whole time it has been one consistent owner.”
The partner he attempted to go into business with was Anthony “Sal Anthony” Macagnone.
Macagnone, who owns Sal Anthony on the Walk in New York City, said that a deal could not be finalized because of “insurmountable problems” between Lombardi and the current landlords, Campus Walk Partners.
“Basically it was dollars and cents, period,” Macagnone said. He added that a rent and lease package through Campus Walk Partners would not be economically feasible for him.
“I am looking to bring a service and make money. I’m a soft capitalist. I believe that everyone should be leaving happy from the restaurant and everyone involved should be making money,” Macagnone said.
The problem was with the amount of money that would be available for Macagnone to serve the food. With a higher quality of food being served, Macagnone needed a set number of dollars subsidized from Lombardi in the beginning in order to buy food and charge enough money to the customer to still make a profit.
Macagnone claims that with the lease and a lack of subsidies made available, it was impossible to open and make a profit.
“To put [a restaurant on campus] would have meant I would have had to charge X amount of dollars instead of the normal Y amount. Rent made it impossible. They overrode my profits and charged like it was in Times Square,” Macagnone said.
Lombardi was not available to respond.
Kevin Duffy, a partner in the Campus Walk Partners deal, is in charge of the leasing procedures on campus and is currently working out a contract with the University of Pennsylvania.
Duffy said that it is unfortunate that a deal could not be reached between the parties to bring Sal Anthony’s on the Walk to campus, but noted that the other stores found the leasing plan acceptable.
“He [Macagnone] had the lease in his hand, he did not sign it. That was his choice, not ours,” Duffy said.
Rumer, despite the difficulties of opening a lasting restaurant, has been very pleased with the work that Campus Walk Partners has done.
“We are happy because for the most part it has brought the bank on campus [PNC Bank], the hair cuttery [Chop Shop], the 7-Eleven which we think is nice for the students to have on campus,” Rumer said.
“And for the most part we have a good mix of tenants. We now have a lot of the amenities that the average student or faculty and staff on campus might need,” Rumer said.
“We aren’t too concerned,” Roland Taylor, the bar manager at Maxi’s, said of the immediate competition between Maxi’s and the Draught Horse.
“People will go to the Draught Horse for certain reasons and people will come here for certain reasons,” he said.
Bob Hollawell can be reached at email@example.com.