The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Wicked offer of space

The owners of our town eyesore, the long abandoned Wicked Burrito, have made the Town and offer: Find a suitable not-for-profit tennant that is willing to vacate on 30 days notice and we’ll let them use the space. This in a letter to Town Manager Cal Horton dated April 26, 2005.

Lonestar Steakhouse CEO Jamie Coulter challenges Cal in the letter:
“Put on your thinking cap and let me have your best ideas for a temporary occupant for the Wicked Burrito building. ” [full PDF of the letter]

Who/what would you suggest? Art gallery, rehearsal space, poetry readings?

Wicked wicked wicked


  1. A gallery space would be cool. I loved the temporary ones that were on Franklin street. Ruby and I had the first date in the store space that Skool Kid Records recently expanded into. I’ll pass the word and put my thinking cap on for this one.

  2. Children’s Museum. Preferably one focused on science, technology, medicine, etc.

  3. See the letter. The Children’s Museum wanted a multi-year lease. Lone star can’t/won’t go with that. They say they (LS) require the place be vacated on 30 days notice. The CM wants and needs something better to build on than that.
    But other projects that are more mobile or more transient could work well — a gallery, a reading series, a rehearsal space, etc.

  4. Thanks for bringing this to people’s attention. Yes, your suggestion of an art or performing arts space — even if temporary — in that location would be wonderful. Although it is not the ideal building, it is a GREAT location to show what arts can do for downtown. I would think a well-organized mix-use arts space would be the best option. Art shows on the wall, poetry readings and other events on regular nights, and possibly dance or light theater, depending on how it could fit in the space (I’ve never been in there, although I have looked through the windows with some of these same thoughts).

    As Brian pointed out, there were two temporary art galleries on Franklin Street that I helped organize as part of the Public Arts Commission’s Arts ‘Round Town festival in 2003. One gallery was in what is now Pita Pit, using that space just for the one day of the festival. Yet in just that one day, it probably hosted 100-200 people. The other gallery was in the School Kids Records addition, hosting a UNC Undergraduate Art Association gallery for nearly 6 weeks. This gallery is a great model for use of the Wicked Burrito space, because it involved a group of volunteers (UNC art students) coordinating staffing the gallery, plus the addition of an art opening/reception plus some light performances. I think such a usage at Wicked Burrito would require the coordinated efforts of some various local groups to be successful, and I have passed this information on to the Public Arts Commission.

    Besides the CHPAC, it would be great to involve the local paint, watercolor, clay, photography, etc. groups to organize shows, plus poetry, theater, dance groups to develop a calendar of events. And hopefully amonst all of these groups would come a never-ending flow of eager volunteers to staff regular hours in the space such that this model can demonstrate what great effect arts and performance can have for stimulating downtown business.

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