FARGO — Café Aladdin, a staple of downtown Fargo's north end, has moved out of their location at 530 6th Ave. N. due to financial strains created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move was announced in a Nov. 13 Facebook post. Café Aladdin owner Ahmad Younis told The Forum the decision to vacate downtown was brought on by a decline in business.
Café Aladdin had been open downtown since 1994. Their current location at 1609 32nd Ave. S. has been open for roughly 11 years, Younis said.
The Greek and Middle Eastern eatery was hopeful for an upswing in business when the winter concluded, however the pandemic had other ideas.
"It was mostly economical. The conditions were very very slow up there for a while," Younis said. "We came out of last year, from wintertime, then we got COVID-19 right away. There was no improvement all the way through the summertime."
Younis said the subsequent loss of foot traffic from downtown Fargo's usual slate of summer events as well as the closure of businesses resulted in losses from which Café Aladdin could not recover.
"In the downtown area, we relied a lot of times on the lunchtime, but churches are closed, banks are closed. People are not getting out around downtown and it probably affected that," he said. "We rely a lot on the street fair and other special events and everything canceled this summer. You cannot make up the business loss at that location."
Café Aladdin's former location at the intersection of Broadway and 6th Ave. N. proved to be less than ideal because "it's not on the main drag," Younis continued.
Following the March shutdown and staffing issues downtown, Younis opted to focus on the south Fargo location. "We thought maybe we'll improve here. It'd been a while since we'd made any strides there," he said.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Younis said business has remained "steady" at the restaurant's south Fargo location. The 32nd Ave. S. location is in direct competition with GP's Greek Kitchen, which is located just blocks west.
"Somehow, this one does not really suffer from low turnout," he said. "It's very, very good here. I'm not sure if it's a different demographic here, maybe."
Younis wouldn't rule out the possibility of bringing Café Aladdin back downtown, if the location and finances were right.
"We're still eyeing the downtown area," he said. "Hopefully in the future we can get somewhere where it makes more sense economically."