CRESTVIEW — Main Street attorney Nathan Boyles is lamenting the loss of a downtown eatery that was next door to his office.
After more than five years, Christopher's Uncorked Bistro has shuttered its doors. A "for sale" sign is posted in front of the building.
Owner Chris Odom has said the restaurant struggled to stay open with insufficient dinner business during the recent recession.
Attempts to contact Odom were unsuccessful, but neighboring businesses indicated the restaurant succumbed to downtown's reduced evening traffic.
"He just couldn't make it," Viola Owens, manager of Hart Printing, said. "In a business like that you need traffic after 5 p.m., and there just isn't any downtown traffic most evenings."
Joe Ballreich agreed with that sentiment on our Facebook page.
“Our downtown needs a huge upgrade ... It’s not a cool and hip place to go,” he said. “Most of the businesses close up shop early before people get off from work.
“There is also not a lot of (places) for the many young adults and families to hang out on Main Street. Nothing to draw people to go to Main Street at night.”
Past patrons cited prices and irregular businesses hours as reasons they couldn’t eat at the restaurant.
Small business is a challenge everywhere, particularly here in Okaloosa County’s largest city, Boyles said.
“As downtown Crestview grows and changes over time, there will be businesses that come and go,” he said.
After renovating the downtown commercial building, Odom opened the restaurant in 2008 as a Crestview location of Guglielmo's Italian Grill and Pizza restaurants.
However, after two years, he shed the franchise relationship and its expensive fees.
A sense of liberation descended on the casually elegant Main Street restaurant; as he put it, “I came Uncorked.”
Under the Christopher’s Uncorked Bistro name, Odom, free from corporate restrictions, introduced a menu based on dishes his customers often requested.
Italian and Mediterranean selections were joined by Creole and Cajun dishes, and the lunch menu featured fare including gourmet hamburgers.
The restaurant's upstairs banquet room was a venue for group meetings and receptions, and hosted local performances of Act4Murder dinner theater productions.
Despite the restaurant’s June closure, Boyles looks forward to his future business neighbor — whoever that may be.
"I'm optimistic another business will take the space and start serving more great food," he said.