Tom Colicchio is staying in Victory Park; Paciugo, alas, is not. Days after next-door neighbor Quiksilver caught a wave out of there and N9NE Steakhouse put a fork in it, the Dallas-based gelato emporium, among the very first tenants to open in Ross Perot Jr.'s increasingly ghosttown-like development, also shut its doors. Not surprisingly, "market conditions in Victory Park" led to its closing, says Ugo Ginatta, Paciugo chairman and chief executive officer, who tells Unfair Park that from the very get-go, he didn't think opening a location in Victory Park was a wise decision.
A franchisee, though, had faith in Perot's vision and convinced Ugo and wife Cristiana, Paciugo's founders, that he could make a go of it there. And though he stuck it out for years -- the location opened in November 2006 -- a rent dispute with Hillwood eventually led to his being locked out over the weekend.
"Sales were close to zero most of the year," says Ginatta, who adds that only Dallas Mavericks and Stars game brought in customers. "And after the problem with the gentleman and the landlord, the decision was best for everyone to give up. I must say, we were against him opening there ... but he was absolutely sold on it. And we were led to believe by the developers that it was supposed to be very glamorous, very busy. But we had many complaints: The die-hards were going there, but they felt like they were going to a deserted place."
Of the 10 locations scattered across the DFW, only one is company-owned: the Highland Park Village outpost inside the Regent Theater. And all have been successful, says Ginatta -- especially, say, the one in the West Village, where folks buy their cup of Mediterranean Sea Salt Caramel and then have some place "to take a stroll." Ginatta says people simply saw no reason to drive all the way down to Victory Park to spend a few dollars on gelato, only to find nothing else to do.
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"I think the developers are so powerful they will find a way out of it, but our franchisee didn't find enough business to stay there," he says. "And the office space is vacant. It's unfortunate, but sometimes thing turn out that way."