MERIDEN — Royal Fish and Chips recently closed after over four decades in business. The restaurant’s demise leaves another open storefront in the Meriden Parkade plaza on East Main Street.
The now vacated site of Royal Fish and Chips, 1231 E. Main St., sits next to the former location of Marinello School of Beauty, which abruptly closed in February of 2016. The signs for the school are still displayed out front.
Adjacent to the School of Beauty sign are two more empty spaces, including the former location of Family Dollar. Bright Dental and CosmoProf bookend another empty lot.
The dwindling activity at the plaza began with the departure of Lowe’s, which closed in 2010 after just two years. The signs have been removed, but its skeleton still stands, empty.
“It’s suffering from a lack of a mega-store to serve as its anchor,” said Sean Moore, president of the Midstate Chamber of Commerce. “Lowe’s was that.”
The closure of Lowe’s created a domino effect for many smaller businesses in the plaza, including a Verizon Wireless retail store, which relocated after claiming a 50 percent dropoff in customer traffic after Lowe’s left.
“A plaza is like a living, breathing organism,” Moore explained. “When one site is not contributing, it really becomes a challenge for the others. I think that’s what we’re seeing.”
The fate of Royal Fish and Chips, and the numerous stores that previously neighbored it, are the next in a long line of businesses that couldn’t find success at the Parkade plaza. The once popular roller rink Rollerport 91 closed down in 1984 after to failing to find a business willing to sublet half of the area they rented at the plaza. By the time Zayre’s discount department store (which was later replaced by Ames) opened at the plaza in 1985, a Record-Journal archive described the Parkade as “ailing.” That 40-year-old diagnosis seems unchanged.
In an effort to aid the plaza and other businesses in its vicinity, the city approved an incentive program back in 2015. It freezes tax assessments to encourage more development on the eastern section of East Main Street. Moore believes the incentive is working in areas surrounding the plaza, but the plaza seems to have its own issues.
“There’s not a lack of action on the east side,” Moore said. “It just seems that the Parkade has its own unique challenges.”
Some businesses have withstood those challenges. Ocean State Job Lot and Valencia Liquor have both stayed in business since opening at the plaza. Ocean State Job Lot opened in 1998, and Valencia Liquor is entering its fifth decade of business, though not all of them have come at the Parkade.
As for the other empty spaces, Moore hasn’t heard of any future businesses planning to move in, including the spot recently vacated by Royal Fish and Chips.
Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢
Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢