Cinnamon Grand Cabin on Johnston St has closed, the most recent in a long list of short-lived failed businesses in this building on Johnston St next to the petrol station on the corner of Johnston and Nicholson streets. I’ve not seen it open at night for a couple of weeks now. It lasted about 3 months. Their Facebook has been untouched for almost a month.
I feel genuinely sorry for the operators. It’s easy to imagine the circumstances: immigrant small business owners with limited education or ability to participate in the workforce, with one of the greatest assets being their cultural capital in the form of their traditional cuisine.
They get screwed over by an awful commercial real estate agent who tells them that the premises receive high passing trade and great exposure. They don’t use the internet and are not computer literate and it never occurs to them to research the history of the location. If they did they would discover how doomed is it and would never sign a lease.
They open with extremely amateurish signage that does not appeal to the young, white, educated demographic that eats out a lot in the area. The quality of the food is irrelevant, as is the ethnicity of the cuisine, as nearby places like Mukka (Indian) and Pavlov’s Duck (also Sri Lankan) are doing very well.
It’s all about the image, and also the location. Something amazing would have to open in this space to overcome the inherent negative vibe of the location. It would have to be impressive, but moreso it would have to look impressive. It would need to look spectacular.
Despite wonderful help and free graphic design from a concerned local resident, who designed their menu cards and initial colourful website (now gone, replaced by a generic online ordering company templated site, the initial impression could not be overcome, and the place was overlooked. The result was inevitable.