Is CityScape Hurting Sens Asian Tapas and The Breadfruit?

A few years ago, downtown's menu of dining options could be counted on one hand, but slowly, ever so slowly, that situation has been changing. With the arrival of CityScape, the high-rise residential, retail, office, and hotel complex in 2010, those in downtown now have more options of where to eat than before -- and most are within walking distance from apartments and workplaces.

Has the increase in restaurants hurt independent eateries on the periphery of Downtown's bustling core?

Chef Johnny Chu of Sens Asian Tapas says it has.

Chu, whose former restaurants include Lucky Dragon in Tempe and Fate in the Roosevelt Row arts district, says his current eatery has seen a drop in business from his core clientele of young downtown professionals.

"Most of them would rather walk than take a car," Chu tells me. "And the parking around here is expensive."

A months-long road construction project right by Chu's restaurant last year added to the problem.

Given the drop in business, Chu tells me, he will be closing his lunch operation in the next few weeks. Nearby neighbor and casual Jamaican restaurant The Breadfruit did the same on January 1.

Has Chu considered a change of location?

"I'm a downtown person," he tells me. "I'm not going anywhere."

Sens Asian Tapas will continue to be open for dinner service and, although Chu has no plans to relocate his current restaurant, he says his newest venture, one he's currently working on, will be located in Midtown.

Ah, progress.

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