Monday will be the final day of operation for Andina Cafe and Coffee Roastery, 433 E. Third St., closing out 23 years of operation in Little Rock's River Market District.
Owner Nita Westbrook says the landlord’s increasing by 50 percent her rent is the proximate cause, compounded by changes in the dynamic of the downtown area that include increased room rates at River Market area hotels and an increase in panhandlers that have cut down on the amount of foot traffic at her establishment, which a few years ago expanded from a cafe to include a bar area serving local craft brews.
Westbrook was one of the original tenants of the River Market’s Ottenheimer Market Hall, and was forced out of its east end-cap space in 2006 to make room for an outlet of Boulevard Bread Co. — since replaced by a David’s Burgers outlet — into considerably less congenial quarters on the Market Hall’s west side. She moved it to the Tuf-Nut building at Third Street and what is now River Market Avenue in 2011 and a third move, she says, is just out of the question.
Meanwhile, Margaret McEntire, owner of the retail spaces in the Tuf-Nut building, including the space Andina occupies, denies that the issue has anything to do with the amount of Westbook’s rent. McEntire said that after extending Andina’s lease for four months, to February, she informed Westbrook that the lease would not be renewed. She also said Westbrook had not yet notified her she was closing down.