Buffalo Wild Wings Closes Portland Location After 17 Years Due to Drug Use and Crime

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In what can be seen as a reflection of the challenges faced by businesses in downtown Portland, the Buffalo Wild Wings located near Southwest 4th and Morrison has shuttered its doors after a 17-year run. The closure, confirmed by both the City of Portland and the company, comes as no surprise to those familiar with the area's escalating safety and security concerns.

The decision to close the establishment follows a period of increasing property damage and safety issues beginning in May 2020, as outlined by Wray Hutchinson, the president of World Wide Wings, in a memo to the downtown location's employees. The parking garage associated with the building, under city ownership, turned into a locus of criminal activities, including drug use, vandalism of cars, arson of awnings, and dangerous debris thrown onto the sidewalks, creating an environment where employees and patrons felt at risk.

Despite the company's investment of tens of thousands of dollars in repairs and a plea for enhanced security measures from the city, the situation deteriorated. The city's eventual shutdown of the parking garage only exacerbated the decline in business, leading to a significant drop in sales, particularly marked in March when sales plummeted by 50% during what is typically a peak period due to March Madness.

The culmination of these events was the city's decision not to renew the lease for Buffalo Wild Wings, communicated on March 31. The city, on the other hand, pointed out that the sports bar had been delinquent in rent payments for months, emphasizing its attempts to address the tenant's concerns within the framework of their lease agreement and its broader efforts to revitalize downtown Portland. City officials expressed hope for finding a new tenant to fill the now-vacant space, underscoring their commitment to the area's improvement.

This scenario underscores the ongoing challenges faced by businesses in Portland's downtown area, impacted by poor leadership and a lack of effective responses to safety and security issues. Such situations have led to an unsafe environment, driving away longstanding businesses and patrons alike. According to KGW, the closure of Buffalo Wild Wings is a notable example of the broader trends affecting the viability of businesses in Portland's core urban areas.