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Iron Bird Cafe closing its doors on Sunday

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Iron Bird Cafe — which opened last year as a hip downtown destination but has had a tumultuous couple of recent months — will close Sunday.

“Due to the unexpected loss of our finance person, keeping the doors open in this economy would just not the right move,” says co-owner Michael Canton.

The cafe is open until 2 p.m. today and Sunday. Canton said employees were notified on Friday night by e-mail that the cafe would close.

Gary Christensen, another of Iron Bird Cafe’s owners, and the one whom patrons would often see working inside the cafe, said it was he who decided to cut ties with the cafe and its ownership group (there were three owners and two investors).

Reached on Saturday morning, Christensen said there were “different financial problems during the whole course of the cafe” and that “it got to be too much.”

This may not mean the ultimate end of Iron Bird Cafe. Canton is hopeful he can find a buyer to take over. He says one potential buyer might keep everything — from the name to the employees.

“The most painful thing for me would be to just watch it shut down completely,” says Canton, who previously owned Javawava, across from Fresno High. “We already have a few people who are interested in buying it. I have absolutely no clue at this point what will happen. I would like to sell it. I would like to see it stay open. I think downtown needs it.”

Iron Bird Cafe opened in March 2010 in the north end of downtown, the centerpiece of the Iron Bird Lofts, one of a number of new housing developments in the area. The cafe hosted ArtHops, live music events, poetry slams and quickly became a popular “third space” for the creative community.

“We have a following, there’s no question,” Canton says. “People, for the past year, have gone out of their way to support us. Problem is, it takes a lot of a cups of coffee.”

In retrospect, the writing was on the wall for Iron Bird Cafe when it announced in June it would be scaling back its hours. That news brought significant discussion about Iron Bird’s role in the emerging Mural District and what it could be doing better. The cafe countered with a statement and new menu options.

“Like any area that’s growing, there are a lot of struggles,” says Reza Assemi, the developer of Iron Bird Lofts and the cafe’s landlord. “That said, with the right management and someone with experience, it’s a great location to do something.

While Assemi says it’s tough to see any business fail, he’s not looking at Iron Bird Cafe’s shutter as a failure for the entire neighborhood.

“It’s been 10 years that I’ve been down here, I don’t think one cafe has made the area happen. I think it’s the intersection of a lot of different things — a lot of housing, you got Fulton 55. One thing may not work, but I think it’s a great opportunity for another operator.”

[photo: ironbirdcafe.com]

PREVIOUSLY:
- Iron Bird Cafe: It’s not all good in the ‘hood
- ‘Nobody’s afraid to come downtown anymore’

Responses to "Iron Bird Cafe closing its doors on Sunday"

Alex says:

This is a colossal loss for the downtown community. Iron Bird is one of the few great places to meet, work, relax, etc.

Praying that someone will take it over and give downtown-goers a good meeting place.

Stephen says:

I don’t know how to say this without coming across as piling on or as a dikk, but…it doesn’t seem that Canton has the knowledge on how to run a successful coffee shop.

A short-term coffee place, yes, but now both Javawava and Iron Bird have closed…I hope he either continues on having learned from all his mistakes (cuz there’s really no crime in failing) or moves forward and onward.

Joe Aguayo says:

I really hope a new buyer steps in to save IBC, but as long as IBC management keeps reducing business hours and portion sizes while increasing prices, they will fail.

some foo says:

Canton seems real bummed for a guy who was never at/gave up on/ tried to sabotage (pick one) IBC…

Mr. Incognito says:

Haha, I’m so not “Incognito” anymore! Well, this is unfortunate news because there are many who don’t like the other options available to those who enjoy downtown/Tower.

I feel for Fresno because it seems as if “we” get close to doing something right and then the floor suddenly drops out from under “us”. The Revue mirrors the personality of its owner, not a friendly vibe. Anyway, I digress…

Many thanks to Gary and Michael for allowing me to have a couple of gigs at the cafe (very memorable for all involved)!

DLR says:

hope someone can get a good deal to take over and make it work. Seems like the number of customers wasn’t the problem.

james says:

Alex, I think this *was* a loss several weeks back – the cafe has been limping along since, and hasn’t been any of those for some time. Sometimes the most humane thing to do is pull the plug…

james says:

Loss of a finance person, eh? That smells like day-old creamer.

Other than the hours and a few new menu items (which weren’t always available after being announced), I haven’t noticed much difference since the big news last month. Just this week I met with someone who waited 20 minutes for a bowl of oatmeal, only to learn that they had delivered to a table where no one was sitting; I’ve heard of others stories in the last few weeks, which makes me wonder what staff training has occurred.

Oh well. I’m over it. I hear the coffee’s good at Dunkin’ Donuts – maybe we can form a committee to lure them into the space.

Malcolm Sosa says:

A number of the new businesses on the Fulton corridor will have limited runs unless they increase the quality and consistency of their product, have reliable hours and good staff. I guess that is true of any business though.

Kiel says:

Bummer, but not surprised. I think this is a serious challenge for the neighborhood to overcome. With all the increase in housing over the last 10 years, the neighborhood has not seen and increase in third spaces until IBC and Fulton 55.

The neighborhood had yet to prove that it can sustain profitable hang out places. I work and spend a lot of time in the neighborhood, so I want to see it happen, but it is going to take some hard work to turn this corner.

Kristin T. says:

I hope Iron Bird can be saved, because it was a really nice third space. I’m not in Fresno often anymore and only got to go a few times, but the atmosphere was really conducive to getting some work done.

However, as a former barista, I’ll never quite forget ordering a mocha (mo-ka) in the cafe’s early days and having the cashier look at me blankly and say, “Oh, you mean a moe-cha?”

Jeffrey Whitaker says:

….Just another Fresno Fail…Sheeesh…..

Brittany B. says:

It is funny that the Bee has Mike Oz on all these food stories for some reason.

Ray Arthur says:

I didn’t post a comment the first go ’round but here’s my $ .02, as a non-coffee drinker. I ate lunch at the IBC about once a week. It was in my lunch rotation of about 8 or 9 independent restaurants downtown and in the Tower District. The food was very good. The menu was fine unless you were going to eat there everyday, which no one was. The service was reasonable to good, but never bad. The prices were reasonable to good. What I found during my weekly hour at the IBC was a bunch of people at tables nursing a crappa-frappa-chino while they played on their iPads or laptops. Or worse, they just came in and sat down and didn’t even buy a drink. Again, not being a coffee or coffee house person, maybe I’ve just defined “coffee house.” If so, don’t try and be a restaurant. If you’re a lunch restaurant, then wire all your chairs with about 15 volts to move along the deadbeat coffee drinkers.

Anonymous says:

A couple things first, 1) Michael is clueless on how to run a cafe….I can tell you for a fact IBC had an extremely large revenue stream month in month out but how that money was spent was the issue.
2) I would say 40% of this is Granville’s fault. They raised rent 15% after the first year when they knew IBC was a new business that was fragile. (They didn’t just do it to IBC they did it to many tenants I.e Iron bird massage that eventually left). And if knowing the fragility of IBC and still raising rent wasn’t enough they then made sure that IBC never was able to sell beer or wine which woulda been huge for them. (They have the same policy for Fulton village yet want a reasturant to come in..but it can’t sell beer or wine) this crushed IBC’s plans.

Bad management along with ridiculous land lords who don’t know how to manage a property (they do a lot of dumb things this is just a taste) have killed a wonderful place that just yesterday I enjoyed. As a resident aat the Iron Bird Lofts I must say this saddens me and really makes me reconsider renewing my lease as having a 3rd space and such easy availability to good coffee and food was and is a huge draw to me…if it geta bought it needs to be by someone with experience in the restaurant industry cuz a lot of changes need to be made..

Dave Meyer says:

It’s a big loss, and a real shame. I’m sure there’s plenty of blame to go around, but it was a nice venue, and a lot of hard work and hope went into the place. Their loss is a loss to a community that seems to suffer more and more losses every week. A lot of people commenting here have no idea how hard it is to keep a small business going, and that location may have a future, but anyplace near Fresno downtown is at best nascent as an economically viable locale.

A concerned voice says:

I’m sorry to hear Iron Bird about Iron Bird’s closure. Fresno will be at lost.

On a side note, exactly what is a third space? I’ve seen the phrase more than once.

Thank you

Alex says:

That’s a fair point. However, Iron Bird lived up to its “third space” identity more than any other place like it.

I disagree with the assessment that IBC is a market fail. Just walking in and seeing customers proves that wrong. Its overall leadership knows that it was popular, all it needs is a change of business strategy to ensure stability.

Lisi says:

It’s not work, It’s not home, it is your third space.

Marty says:

I’m sorry for the owner of the location, but maybe people will start to realize that downtown Fresno is not coming back. Who really wants to go there and pay the parking fees and then see the Mayor’s homeless begging. Wait I thought she gave our money to them for housing. Maybe the Mayor and the rest of the downtown revitalization leeches will see it is a waste of our resources.

Claire L says:

This is such a shame.

@Marty, when it comes to funded housing programs there are rules and regulations that many do not wish to follow…. this is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Then add to that how many Marty’s are out there calling the homeless “the Mayor’s” and refusing to take any ownership in it.

Mary E. says:

That’s awfully harsh for someone who portrays to be an advocate for Fresno. Coffee houses and cafes are all about coffee – hence why it’s in the name – so it’s doing poorly if customers AREN’T there to use the internet while drinking a cup of deliciousness. And they weren’t trying to be a restaurant, they were being a CAFE, which means serving both excellent coffee and lunches. It’s something Europeans with culture understand quite well.

Dan says:

Very unfortunate for the Mural District. I hope another brave entrepreneur steps up to the plate and attempts to operate a cafe in that location. In the mean time we have Revive Cafe if you want a local place to get a bite to eat.

Brittany B. says:

Do you guys think Mike will starve to death? Or will he find another 10 eateries?

Michael says:

The cafe is in a bad part of town. There are urban wannabes who would like to see Fresno become like LA or SF, but it ain’t gonna happen. They’ll move in for a year to 18 months and then move back to Woodward Park.

james says:

Who hurt you, Brittany?

Bigger Picture says:

Aside from being a failure of IBC management and Granville, this news also portends the failure of Craig Scharton and the mayor.

Their whole model for revitalizing downtown depended on this business/residence thing working.

Is it working?

Frsnobear says:

It is interesting at all the fingerpointing and speculation on why they failed, when running any type of food establishment there are many factors that need to be considered. #1 overhead, ie: rent, labor, utilities, city and county fees, taxes, maintinance, insurance, employee caused shrinkage (theft & waste). 2 Food costs, this is where most food service establishments fail as in changing recipies trying to save money, cutting corners by changing vendors (changes taste & textures) and serving smaller portion size whichin all turns off the customers. 3. A good base of loyal customers…I mean how many of you eat there 1 or 2 x a week or more, how many of you posting on here were willing to drive downtown and support IBC on a weekly basis and tell your friends to do the same? I think sadly this is a case of a lot of people afraid to go across the border and go south of Olive to try the place out, plus the snootie foodies and attitudie judy’s that find miniscule details wrong with everything and post it to the web thinking they did their good deed. 4. As for homelessness, The supreme court decided vagrancy was no longer considered a crime when Jimmy Carter was in office and he also started cutting the mental health system to shreds back during the last phase of his presidency.

Boygeorge says:

I strolled in to this cafe once. I saw that they sold sandwhiches, I work nearby and had brought a sandwich from home so I was thinking I would buy a bag of chips to go with my sandwich. The person behind the counter said they didn’t sell any chips. No sun chips, no ruffles. What place sells sandwiches but no chips. I never went back to this place after that. Why would I, it’s in a horrible part of town and the service and prices weren’t that great.

Sydney says:

looks like the honeymoon is over for the publicly-funded private-profit iron bird fiasco. maybe now another developer can get those sweet City-funded deals normally reserved for the Assemi clan.

Brianne says:

Notifying people that they no longer have a job via email? Classy.

I did enjoy going down there, and I hope they are able to find a great new tenant to continue the revitalization process and improve the neighborhood.

On the other hand, I do think it’s legitimate to use this time to discuss what we can do better with downtown revitalization in the future. It’s entirely possible that giving large amounts of RDA funds (aka your tax dollars at work) to a single local developer to build a planned community is not the best strategy.

Mike Oz says:

Just wanted to make sure everybody knew this ISN’T the “Caption This” thing where you’re supposed to post absurdly funny comments … some of these are cracking me up, though.

Aren Hekimian says:

Now’s not a time to bash someone for trying to do something positive for the community.

When’s the last any 1 of you have truly done something for no monetary purpose but to help a cause and to build the mind state needed to get out of the old farmer mentality Fresno was built on? There are a few and I applaud those efforts.

Regarding IBC. What is needed there is a Cafe/Restaurant that serves really GOOD food and GOOD drinks. It’s simple. If the product is good no matter where your from people will seek it(ie Mediterranean Cafe downtown). Shoot I manage a rapper from small country town called “Fresno”(yes everywhere we go they call us a small country town, not even a city) that has fan’s all over the world. Why? Because he’s good at what he does and we take pride in having a professional top tier business and not take for granted the talents we have on our team.

Regarding Area: The whole area thing is a bunch of bologna. I’d love for one of the clovis/northsiders to move to a big city like SF/LA/NY/CHI and try and live there for more than 18 months(not going to school). You guys like the space/country lifestyle so don’t discourage others who like the city life lifestyle.

Regarding Developers: I would love to see Reza and the Granville family make prices more affordable in the area and I would love the city to really help developers bring in more corporate businesses ie. coffeebeans, riteaids, taco bell, gas stations, UCSF Residency school, Save Mart, etc. It’s much needed to bring in residents. I would also love to see competition from the developer side as that will help push all parties to make needed moves and to make them work for the money they are making. If it’s not easy for the tenants it shouldn’t be easy for the developers. Once businesses have competition the level of service goes up. It’s healthy competition and nothing wrong with it. There needs to be a second bar/music venue brought in the area to compete against fulton 55 so they can stop besides for a couple individuals acting like a 2 star venue with 4 star capabilities and rise as their honeymoon period will be over soon as well.

Hopefully the city will see the efforts being made in the area including Tower District and they will realize they don’t need to keep expanding our boundaries and cutting into more Farm lands. It’s time for developers and the city to start using what they have and stop wasting resources ie like our country is doing as we speak. Be a model city and that’s when others will start giving us respect and more financial opportunities. Until then keep bashing each other because that’s all you know to help your egos out, but ask yourself when was the last time you did something for the City without wanting anything in return??

Now heading to another city wearing my “F” hat representing Fresno while you all fight about coffee service.

henrythedog73 says:

sad…very sad news. I mean, the service wasn’t good and the food was bad but it was a great place to hang out with your laptop…..way to go fresno….way to go….

meloknee says:

I agree with the one commenter who said that part of the problem is the no alcohol policy that GV feels the need to uphold. No live/work building or neighborhood can survive without alcohol sales! I looked at opening Twee at Iron Bird and when I heard there would be no restaurants or bars, I said no way. The live/work model will never, NEVER, work without bars and restaurants.

Anonymous says:

Aren..you laid that out perfect. A coffee shop will do great down here there is a huge demand (like I said they’re not going out of.business cuz they did bring in revenue…$30,000+ a month) it was just ran poorly by someone who already ran a previous coffee shop into the ground.
Listen, to all you north siders living in your poorly build track home paying a $2,500 a month mortgage on a $160,000 property that’s only losing value while sitting atop the best farmland in the world…downtowns not great, but massive change doesn’t happen overnight. Without the mayor the opportunity for that coffee shop to exist wouldn’t of been there along with the other businesses in the area and because a PRIVATE business is ran poorly and fails shouldn’t reflect negatively on her. And since I live here I can personally tell you we have less homeless vagrants here than over on Blackstone and herdon or even on nees and cedar so those comments are just ignorant.
And yes the Assemi’s are garbage who were givin free money with the hope of them doing good for a depressed area but have no clue how to manage properties and impose regulations that hurts businesses and the young new community but at least there is a start down here. Hopefully a much more professional and intelligent developer gets involved down here and things move forward.

Turtle says:

I nominate Aren Hekimian for the next Mayor of Fresno.

James says:

Bash, no. Criticize, yes – now’s the time assess where things might have failed, for the benefit of other ventures.

As someone who’s invested heavily in things that are for community benefit and not financial gain, I don’t understand the connection being drawn to IBC. This was a for- profit venture. As such, it failed. It’s a blow to momentum, but it’s also a new opportunity.

Jackki H says:

Focus should be less on what we think downtown should be and more on building off what is already there.

As much as people deny it downtown has had a culture since Fresno was built.

Calling it something else and changing the face of it doesn’t make it better. We need to work along side those who have been there longer. There are plenty of businesses that have succeeded downtown.

I also think I don’t need to stress that it doesn’t need to be a Tower extension or a new North Fresno.

aren Hekimian says:

Regarding my Fulton 55 comments. I respect the ownership for taking a chance on the local music scene. I feel with a legitimate sound system and revamped staging area the venue has a chance to be one of the better venues for their size in california. Those 2 things are the most expensive part but i’m confident soon enough it will be. No disrespect to any of the staff as they’ve always been great, friendly and supportive. The criticism was based on what would give the consumer the ultimate music experience people in Fresno deserve. Plain and simple.

August 19th i’m doing an event called “It’s All Love” to bring all different entities together. There will be a surprise live music appearance with the top music influencer dj’s and it’s basically held as a monthly music event to bring people together to see what our music/party scene is really about. We will have an art gallery upstairs to showcase local art.. I’m incorporating local promoters, musicans, and more to make all feel involved. If you want to be involved email me at aren@theiangroup.com and I would love talk to you and see how you can help myself, the community and the musicians of Fresno.

corazon says:

We are saddened to hear that IBC will be closing its doors.

We know first hand how heartbreaking it is to have to close your business down and how incredibly hard and challenging it is to keep it open. Not to mention how impossible it is to make everyone happy all the time, that alone can be demoralizing.

We hope our friends who held jobs there can move on to new ones quickly and we have great hope that one day Fresno will have a downtown we can all be proud of and more than glad to visit and support.

Anywhere says:

IBC will rise out of the ashes and be the better for it

mdub420 says:

F this troll.

FormerlyFresno says:

You went in for chips, they didn’t have any so you’re never going back? No wonder businesses besides McDonald’s, Target and Wal-Mart consistently fail. It’s the idiots like you that keep new businesses from being successful. Not every business is going to sell everything you want.

FormerlyFresno says:

Did anyone ever think to do a background check on the developer? Seems like he is an ‘artist’ with NO business background. That’s a recipe for FAILURE!
I’m convinced that the Mayor, just like the previous Mayor is clueless when it comes to attracting businesses and is over her head.

james says:

Agreed, though I’ve heard that the policy may have since been revised for some businesses.

Eddy says:

Come on folks, this is Fresno… Fresno is not a “hip” city, nor is it a very attractive city. You can’t put lipstick on a pig and expect it too be pretty!

Mike Oz says:

Seriously?!? Did you even bother to Google Reza Assemi?
He’s transformed the entire “Mural District” with many developments — long before Iron Bird.
The Pearl Building, Vagabond Lofts, H Street Lofts, Broadway Studios, Broadway Lofts. C’mon. Don’t bring that weak stuff here. This ain’t fresnobee.com.

James E. says:

Check out Ray Oldenburg’s book, “The Great Good Place”. Oldenburg coined the term “third place” to refer to public places where people could gather in order to strengthen community ties outside their family and work lives.

The_Dude says:

He certainly took a lot of public funds to build a privately-held family business. A real reporter might look into the cozy relationship between our public servants and certain developers.

Mike Oz says:

Ummm, this isn’t a story about a developer’s development failing. Iron Bird Lofts are still open.

This is a story about one of his tenants going out of the business.

When Borders closed, did you demand The Bee look into Ed Kashian? It was a business that closed — like many are these days.

You sound like someone with an ax to grind against a certain developer, which is certainly your right, but just come out and say it.

Victor says:

I rarely participate on threaded comments, but I cannot help but chime in, especially with IBC. For context, my office space is just a couple of blocks away and I frequented the cafe a lot. I know the owners and the baristas there, although not close enough as “friends”. Although I run a couple of businesses, I’ve never ventured into the running a cafe… but I do love coffee and “third spaces”. And since this comment thread could possibly be read by a future owner, I would like to share my thoughts/constructive feedback/insights about IBC or running a cafe-cum-third space, in general.

1. It’s all about the coffee. Serve unique coffee that the owners have bought (from the growers) and/or roasted. Tell me stories on how well you know your beans (where it’s grown or who the farmers are). The more unique it is, the better. I would like to know you are passionate about coffee as I am.

2. Grow your customer base to wherever you could ship your beans to, by selling them online. If you travel the world for those unique coffee beans and find the ones that are special — then that’s a great value proposition. You already have the space for product fulfillment, why not use them.

3. Use technology/social media/social gaming (this strategy/tactic might be a cliche to many, but IBC wasn’t too good at it) to its fullest potential. I would love to see a 10% discount to the Foursquare Mayor. And when your register failed because of your cash register system, you could have used Square as a backup payment tool. Get your customer’s e-mail address. Send me your week’s menu on Monday (better with coupons) and a story about your next flavor of coffee. Use a large flat screen to show your dynamic food/drinks menu.

4. Explore innovative business models (does not have to be instituted on a daily basis). Somewhere in the midwest, a cafe has a pay-as-you-can model on their meals. Some people pay a lot, some people do not. It might not work here, but who knows. Oh btw, that cafe is profitable…

5. Design is important. The Office Depot white board is tacky… especially with your initial investment in the design of the place. You could be more creative :)

6. Visit top coffee shops all over the world. Bring the experience here in Fresno. Tell us stories about it.

I know that my thoughts above are all in retrospect and that there are more issues far beyond what everyone here knows about (i.e. owners-investors dynamics etc…). All I could say is that I am very sorry that IBC is closing, and I really hope that another maverick takes over.

-v

grendel_loki says:

THIS IS WHY WE CANT HAVE NICE THINGS.

Noah Canton says:

Smartagious.com was launched by Fresnan’s a year or two ago in response to on online publication that ranked Fresno as last of the 55 “smartest” cities in the United States. After reading some these replies, I wonder if the proclaimed status isn’t that far off the mark. Yet at the same time, the majority of these astute and well-informed replies reflect the absurdity of that silly ranking.

The Iron Bird Cafe shut its doors yesterday. This was difficult for the patrons, employees and co-owners. One of the employees cried yesterday Рnot just because they lost their job, but also because that person really enjoyed working at the Iron Bird Caf̩ in general and because they enjoyed the patrons and friends of the cafe in particular.

It was, and still is, a very sad day for everyone. Yet it was also very uplifting in the sense that literally hundreds of people went to the cafe on its last day to not only buy food and drinks, but also to offer encouragement, support and kind thoughts. THIS is what genuine community is about – the fostering of support, solidarity, kindness, resilience and interconnectedness to lift up, recognize and bolster strides in local progress.

In spite of this, what’s fascinating here is the extraordinarily hypocritical comments that some of you local “community members” make while advocating community cohesion, solidarity, and local resilience with your regurgitated and generic talk of “local start-ups” and participating in “community-building.”

Shame on you. These nonconstructive comments and “criticisms” are unsupportive, accusatory, judgmental, error-filled and ultimately disempowering. Your narrative is much more impressive than your actual behavior. It is simplistic (mentally and physically) to hide behind your computer and post defamatory comments on facebook or on online publications such as this, that “criticize” a place, ironically, from which you (without paying) refill your coffee cup 15 -20 times throughout the week after only paying for one cup of coffee? What the hell? (I met you a few times and thought you were a really cool guy, but man, seriously? (You know who you are.)) What type of community support is that? None of us want that type of community. And I’m speaking on behalf of real, ordinary people.

Who here in Fresno has had the sheer guts to invest everything they had into a 2,000 square foot space dedicated to supporting a sense of community belonging? Were some mistakes made along the way? Of course. Who doesn’t make mistakes? What other better way to learn is there? Signing a lease at a $1.63 per square foot, which was outrageously high for this part of town, may have been a mistake. A recurring criticism was the large number of staff. But was the desire to try to create great customer service and only raise prices, despite ever-increasing costs, once in 17 months a mistake?

As it was pointed out in an earlier comment, there were efforts specifically being made to acquire a beer and wine license, which would have financially allowed an even more fun place for people to congregate. And while there was substantial encouragement, there were some other forces that put up insurmountable barriers. This venture was undeniably for-profit, but the core people involved were more interested in contributing to a vibrant part of the Mural District Community than getting a strong return on their investments. Please remember that the IBC helped sparked not just the revitalization of a previously neglected part of town, but a revolutionizing trend what would become a much sought after and inspiring community haven.

It’s so easy to point fingers, talk about the business plan being wrong from the beginning, and mention so-and-so didn’t know what they were doing. But what have YOU done to support the community in a way that has offered thousands of ordinary people a place to meet up, relax, forge friendships and support community? And what about employing as many as 15 young people during a period of high unemployment?

Sincere gratitude to those of you that have showed endless support and encouragement. To those of you who have lambasted people involved in the management or the “failures” of the cafe – I suggest you spend some time redefining your concept of genuine community support and constructive criticism.

In being completely transparent, I am a former employee, long-time friend to Gary Christiansen, family member to the other three investors, brother to Michael Canton and a Fresno local. I challenge you to sign your comments with your real names and engage in some genuine and transparent dialogue to bolster real community engagement among people who are willing to contribute more than the generic rhetoric of “community support” and baseless, hypocritical criticism that your social media contributions espouse.

Dribble says:

I can’t say I’m going to miss the place really. My two experiences in the IBC weren’t positive. The service was terrible because everyone was worried about socializing rather than making drinks.

Josef says:

The town has no more the “as a hip downtown destination”

FortFun says:

~~~
Sorry to see the I.B. go, however it was to slicky slicky for me anyway. I can’t stand Corporate Coffee and while the Iron Bird wasn’t Corporate, it sure as heck didn’t have the FunkFactor needed to set itself apart from other Coffee SHOPs.

Fresno needs good CoffeeHouses we are lacking great CoffeeHOUSEs. I want you to look at a CoffeeHaus in Colorado considered by many to be the best Coffeehouse between the Mississippi River and L.A. it’s called Stella’s I’m enclosing a link http://www.stellascoffee.com/ to what Fresno needs. Take it serious, we don’t have this and we very much need it!

Cody says:

@Noah, I’m glad you recognize some of your key mistakes. I was a regular at the cafe, I spent anywhere from $30-$100 a week at the cafe. I brought many friends down there for open mic night and had several lunch meetings at the cafe (as I to have a downtown based small business). My business will now suffer with the cafe gone. My ability to network is greatly reduced as I met a lot of future clients at the cafe The cafe was the heart and soul down here and it saddens me to see it go. MANY mistakes were made that were even obvious to a majority of the patrons but it seemed as with 5 different owners there were 5 different visions of how to fix the cafe. What made me very angry is what I saw on TV last night. I was at the cafe almost every day yet the first time I ever saw Michael Canton was yesterday and he had a smile on his face most of the morning and was more than happy to put his face in front of the camera. Gary poured his heart and soul into that place he was there day in and day out and welcomed everyone which came through those doors with a smile. Pablo was always behind the counter working, Alan was there almost everyday yet the man who was on camera was a man I’ve never seen before. It was truly disappointing to see someone who didn’t care about the place be the one who said good bye on behalf of IBC.

james says:

There’s a lot to respond to here, Noah (especially as someone who’s been vocal online, and who has taken advantage of the $.25 refills). But it comes down to this description: “…a much sought after and inspiring community haven.”

Something so beloved is going to pull emotion out of people.

Some will express gratitude. Some will express anger and frustration (stemming from disappointment). And others will express criticism so that we can collectively learn from all of this. Generically criticizing those who voice their thoughts at this point won’t encourage responses of gratitude, though a post expressing *only* gratitude, might.

James
(Always signs real name, voices opinions, and carries and extra quarter for refills.)

The_Dude says:

Let me dumb it down for you, since this point is apparently beyond your grasp. The Bee doesn’t need to look into Kashian’s River Park because that development wasn’t funded by public money. Bad businesses fail, good ones don’t. There’s nothing tragic about it. In fact, it’s a good thing, since it ensures consumers get quality products at the cheapest possible prices. On the other hand, GV Urban builds rental properties using public money. In fact, it’s essentially the only player in town (yes, I know about the Mayflower). It tears down existing structures, replacing them with urban gated communities. And it does it all through a cozy relationship with City Hall and the RDA. And our local reporters, rather than investigating this relationship, instead focus on a failed business operated by owners with a history of failure. If I have an axe to grind, it’s with reporters not doing their job and allowing these relationships to exist unchallenged.

Mike Oz says:

No need to dumb it down, I get what you’re saying. But this is a blog post about a local business closing. It’s not an investigative story, It’s not an in-depth look at downtown revitalization. It’s a short-and-sweet recount of what is happening.

You want it to be something else — that something is probably worth a look. It is, not however, this blog post.

It’s like going onto a Grizzlies game story and complaining that the story isn’t about the team’s financial relationship with the city.

Or, to give another example that’s a little closer to home: It’s like going into a coffee shop and getting pissed when they don’t sell chips.

G William Norris, III says:

It’s always sad when a business closes and especially when it was a gathering point for many people from all over Fresno and not just the art community. Hopefully, the owners of IBC will learn and grow from this experience and I also wish the staff the best in finding employment. Having several co-owners and two financial backers is a recipe for failure right from the beginning, too many chefs in the kitchen syndrome and each wanting their investment back ASAP, not a good business plan, or lack there of!

I must say Granville has a vision for the Mural District and the new Fulton Village and 330 Van Ness developments attest to this, but the high rents they are charging at this time $1,400+ is way to high for the area even with solar panels and super energy efficiency, when you can rent a 3 bedroom house at Woodward Lake for less! I’m sure Granville is losing money on each unit/space, but to help an area turn around you need it filled with a waiting list!

The City of Fresno has given redevelopment funds to Granville for just this reason, to offset the lost, but it seems that Granville is taking the redevelopment funds and charging higher rents for the area to maximize their profits. Realistically, they should have figured about 4-5 years of losing money and slowly raising the rents on spaces and residential units to keep the demand high as the area improves… hey, the Fulton Village was going to have there first residents move in June, here it is August and it looks like another month before that happens, and with the number of available units at Iron Bird Lofts it doesn’t look good! Looks like Granville Urban division will be around another year or so before it goes under with their current business model, so sad, with so much potential… just too many people and their greed!

henrythedog73 says:

hey smaaartypants….your grammar…..dayyyuuummmm!

Claire L says:

I vote Grandel’s comment as the caption!

Claire L says:

Mike, be nice. The only reason girls troll boys is because they like them. Next thing you know she’s going to push you off the swing and call you a “poopoo head”.

Claire L says:

It’s so cute how you have a crush on him…. but you really need to update your flirting skills. Little girl cattiness hasn’t caught a boy’s attention since 3rd grade.

Jaguar Bennett says:

I think everyone is reading way too much into one business failure. I’m sorry the Iron Bird Cafe closed; it was a nice place. But the closure of one coffee house is not a sign of failure for downtown or the Mural District as a whole. It takes years, sometimes decades, of solid effort to change a neighborhood, and in that time a lot of businesses come and go. The Tower District started its bohemification in the early 1960s — how many coffee houses have opened and closed in the Tower since then? The Cafe Midi, the Olive Tower, Java Cafe, Intermezzo … and those are just the ones I can remember — I’m sure there were more. Despite a lot of business failures, the Tower District continues to develop, and so will downtown. It’s a shame the Iron Bird Cafe has closed, but something will take its place.

I’d like to point out to the downtown skeptics that the long-term trends favor downtown revitalization. Fresno can’t expand indefinitely into the surrounding farmland. Denser development makes better economic sense, as well as creating a better quality of life.

Noah Canton says:

I think the concept of ‘criticism’ versus ‘constructive criticism’ is causing some confusion here. It’s only natural, as you pointed out, to express emotions. But where we see differently, I think, is the way we channel those emotions into writing and also how we frame our critical views. Blatant criticism is a top-down approach that shuts down the criticized and gives, albeit subconsciously, a false sense of dominance to the person criticizing. On the other hand, ‘constructive criticism’ is shaped by the concern for the well-being of each other in a mutually beneficial way that only then, as you pointed out, provides a way to collectively learn. Look at Victor’s comment for an example, or the many other views expressed here.

For example, if I post on facebook, “The flies drove me out of IBC today,” this is not constructive, but just plain rude. To put it differently, if I were at a neighbor’s house who had lots of flies buzzing around, I wouldn’t wait until I got home to let everyone else no via the Internet that I had to leave my neighbor’s house because of all the flies. Not only would it be nonconstructive, it would be mean.

I would like to believe that you mean well, but you have been called out on your unduly harsh criticisms previously by others. There seems to be a pattern that would benefit from some critical self-reflection. Based on your response, which I thank you for, I’m not sure if you entirely quite get it. I’m not looking for responses of gratitude. I’m looking for responses that reflect intellectual constructive criticism that benefits everyone – not just future owners, but past owners as well.

As for the ethical issue of carrying extra quarters for refills, I’d gladly take that up via email, because the narrative certainly did not reflect the normative in this case.

Jonah Oscam says:

I am really sorry to hear about IBC closing. I liked the cut of their jib. Fingers crossed for topless juice bar.

james says:

Noah, you’re right: I wouldn’t post online that flies drove me out of a neighbor’s house. I also wouldn’t be expected to make a purchase to spend time in said house, so those examples aren’t really comparable. My transactions at IBC were as a customer – and yes, I spent money there. I would have spent more had I enjoyed the food items on the menu.

On a similar note, I also wouldn’t come on the Beehive express thoughts about my neighbor in hopes that he or she would read them.

Back to IBC: I offered constructive feedback countless times – most of it was online, but that’s where I share all of my thoughts (some are even positive). Others posted constructive criticism, as well; see Mike’s previous post on the reduced hours for a few examples. When such thoughts are shared, and then subsequently ignored, it’s easy to become increasingly cynical. And outright annoyed.

Honestly, I’m tired of local businesses not competing (and I’m saying that as someone who has heavily advocated for buying local). I know the hurdles, and I know it’s not easy. But I also know that adaptivity, foresight, and a little experience help businesses to not only survive, but thrive, even in this economy. It can be done, if business leaders are willing to do whatever it takes – to start with a plan, listen, and make changes accordingly.

And yes, I may be harsh at times, but I feel that’s necessary to ensuring that I’m not surrounded by vacant cafes and restaurants.

jb says:

good opportunity for someone to go in across the street with a coffee shop / restaurant that sells wine and beer.

Frank says:

What was the exact comment that was censored on the news about the tea events yesterday?