Subway Starts Food Fight in Mariposa County Foothills

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The fight over a Subway restaurant that's set to open in Mariposa is heating up. Now a group of small business owners is pushing for an ordinance that would keep all chain restaurants and retail stores out of the community.

Mariposa County does have an ordinance banning any new drive through windows that was put into place many years ago. Now some small business owners say another ban is needed to protect the unique character that draws in residents and tourists alike. But others argue it would unfairly cut out competition and drive up prices.

Members of the Mariposa "NoWay" campaign say a ban on new chain businesses is vital to protecting the future of Mariposa.

Brenda Ostrum said, "Every move towards corporate formula change is a move away from roots and our rural uniqueness, and we're saying no way, no more, that's not the direction we want to go."

The group made the announcement about its plans to push for the ordinance at the site that will soon be home to the new Pony Espresso Coffee Shop.

The owners of the small restaurant are moving from their current location on Highway 140 to a spot on 5th Street because they say they've been clashing with their current landlords over plans to allow a Subway next door.

Amy Eaton said, "I'm not against new business coming. I think new business is great. I just don't want to see this town filled with franchise signs."

Amy Eaton says franchises like Subway don't contribute to the local economy the way small independent businesses do.

Steve Lach disagrees said, "We should be able to have 40 to 50 people in here."

He's about to open a beer tasting room right next to the site of the new Subway. It's an expansion of his business, the Mariposa Brewing Company, which is currently located at the fairgrounds.

Lach said, "Everybody's had a hard time the last three years and I think any improvement to the business climate downtown could be beneficial to everybody."

And resident Bob Borchard says it's also better for consumers, "When you restrict competition, you make things more expensive, you're limiting our choices."

The owner of the building where the Subway is set to open did not want to speak on camera. But he did tell me he's not doing anything wrong by renting out the space.

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mariposa, yosemite, business, sara sandrik
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