Donuts and Nick Spencer
If you call the Busken Bakery at 800 Walnut St. downtown to place a carryout order for lunch or to arrange to pick up a dozen donuts, the phone will keep ringing and ringing. Apparently they still had enough money to pay their phone bill, but not enough business to keep their doors open. This bakery and restaurant is closed.
When I found out about this, the first person I thought of was Nick Spencer. In November of 2004, I wrote a “Living Out Loud” column called, “They Closed.” It was an essay concerning all the restaurant closings downtown and how lively it is across the river. Spencer was all over me on his Web site, saying I was slamming small businesses downtown and not supporting downtown in general. Our debate continued last May when I wrote a blog posting called “In Search of Food and the Truth,” in which I continued the discussion on downtown businesses closing.
Nick was right there again defending his turf, and we had a lively discussion, to say the least. Nick thought I was all wet; and I thought his head was up his ass and wasn’t seeing reality.
Now, I’m asking who was right. I don’t think Nick can say much about Busken’s closing, because he himself has closed his own business — his nightclub, Alchemize, in Over-the-Rhine. Guess where the club is relocating?
In my November 2004 essay, I compare Kentucky’s thriving business at night to Cincinnati’s rolled up sidewalks. Nick really took me to task on this but I think now he’s eating his words. His new club will be in Covington, Ky.
On his Web site, he gets defensive about the move. He states he looked in Cincinnati for a suitable spot — Za on Ludlow Avenue, The Garage on Ludlow and the Cincinnati Artists Warehouse on Hamilton Avenue. Well, that’s all fine and good, Nick, but none of these places you were exploring were downtown, the area you raked me over the coals for criticizing.
Let’s be real here. The closing of Busken’s on Walnut and Nick’s nightclub moving across the river are yet more examples how downtown cannot keep businesses open. The reality is, Nick, you’re probably doing what you need to do to keep your nightclub afloat. Downtown Cincinnati can’t support it.
— Larry Gross