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Arlington's Local Scoop, Fogdog Galley to close
ARLINGTON — Olympic Avenue will lose a number of its businesses, at least two with the close of this year.
The Olympic Theatre’s struggles to sustain itself have been well-publicized, but relatively little attention has been paid to longtime eatery establishments such as the Local Scoop, much less an art venue such as Fogdog Gallery.
Local Scoop co-owner Bev Angerbauer began placing letters on her customers’ dining tables earlier this month, explaining that the restaurant would be closing at the end of December due to the worsening economy.
“We invested $10,000 in it last year,” Angerbauer said. “We hoped and prayed it would turn around, but it didn’t. I’m just tired. I made this decision a few months ago.”
Angerbauer has corresponded with Dana Strickland at Arlington High School about securing funding to continue the Local Scoop as a working classroom, providing a hands-on education in catering, advertising and marketing, but so far, that prospect doesn’t seem hopeful.
“In the meantime, we’ve gone from a staff of 15 to just three and me,” Angerbauer said. “I had to lay off everybody except for two of our waitstaff and our cook. Christina Baker, who’s been with me faithfully all these years, is waiting tables, while her husband works in the kitchen. I’ve actually had to go on the floor to take orders myself, just to make ends meet until the end of the year. We already weren’t salaried.”
Bev and Dave Angerbauer took over the Local Scoop in September of 2007, and Bev has no expectations of any returns on the investments they’ve made over the years.
“The bank is going to get it all,” Bev Angerbauer said. “It got to the point where we’re only busy during lunchtime, with very few customers for breakfast or dinner. Still, I’ll miss being able to give the kids a place to come eat and hang out. Our customers have become our friends and family.”
At the same time, both Bev and Dave are coping with enough health issues and stress that they’re looking forward to being able to spend more time with their own family.
“I need to be home,” Bev Angerbauer said. “I want to be a wife. I’ve already got a job, as secretary of the First Baptist Church. Dave and I are both collecting Social Security.”
Longtime patrons of the Local Scoop were outspoken and emotional in their opinions of the restaurant’s impending closure.
“It sucks,” said Larry Brickey, who’s been a breakfast regular at the Local Scoop for the past several years. “I’ll miss the atmosphere here. I like the Blue Bird Cafe, but this is more of a fun place.”
Both Karen Aimone and her mother, Margaret Coffman, were nearly in tears as they joined John Coffman — Karen’s brother and Margaret’s son — for lunch at the Local Scoop.
“I was coming here before it was even the Local Scoop, back when it was still a feed and farm store,” said Margaret Coffman, who admitted to sharing her daughter’s audible sniffles.
“My brother and I absolutely love the Local Scoop,” Aimone said, as she dabbed at her eyes. “I do want to cry. I grew up with this place, and I don’t know where the kids who worked and ate here are going to go now. You could always depend on this place for a quick meal and good food. It’s just not right. Where am I going to go to get my maple nut ice cream now?”
As Claire Cundiff, owner of the Fogdog Gallery, approached the end of her two-year lease this month, she faced a similar decision gate to Bev Angerbauer, and she’s made a similar peace with her own decision.
“My landlord has been fantastic, but even though I did okay, I never truly did well,” Cundiff said. “It wasn’t enough for me to survive as a business.”
Cundiff can’t think of anything she might have done differently to avoid this outcome, since she made a sustained effort to engage with the local community through events and activities ranging from lectures and classes to live music, magic shows and parties.
“I was willing to do anything and everything,” Cundiff said. “We hosted poetry nights here for nearly two years before I stopped offering them, because enough people weren’t attending them.”
While Cundiff would like to remain active in supporting the area art scene, she’s trying not to tie herself down to any set plans just yet.
“I’ll miss the local artists, and being part of downtown Arlington,” Cundiff said. “I’ve loved having a gallery. We should appreciate our local artists. I have 97 artists on display whose level of work you can’t discredit, and when you support them, that money stays in the local community.”
Kristen Granroth, president of the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce, regrets seeing any local business close, but acknowledged that these closures hit especially close to home for her.
“The Local Scoop and the Olympic Theatre are longtime Arlington businesses, making that all the harder to see happen,” Granroth said. “We never like to lose businesses, new or old, but some turnover is part of life. The sad thing about the Fogdog Gallery is that Claire was so passionate, not only about her business, but also about helping those around her, so it’s too bad that she didn’t receive more local support for her store.”
Granroth nonetheless characterized these closures as a set of isolated incidents.
“I see this area continuing to grow in a range of fields, and some attrition is part of growth, painful as it may be,” Granroth said. “We as community members, businesspeople and the Chamber can all do something, by continuing to shop local whenever possible, by spreading the word about our favorite local shops, and by encouraging our friends and family to support them as well.”