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August 20, 2014

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Joe Downtown:

Joe Downtown: Group lauds Container Park as it pulls plug on 3 shops there

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Christopher DeVargas

Downtown’s Container Park.

Three businesses operated by Future Restaurant Group are moving out of the Downtown Container Park, just a few months after the park opened.

The Boozery, a small bar; The Beatnik, an espresso coffee outlet; and Pork & Beans are leaving the Container Park, which is an outdoor mall under operation of Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project, said Jennifer Cornthwaite, spokeswoman for FRG.

"We are so pleased to have been a part of the conceptual and design team and ultimately operations inside Container Park, and leave some great spaces in very capable hands to continue,” she said in a statement. “Downtown Container Park is a great incubator for small business, and clearly it's working."

Reached Tuesday afternoon, Cornthwaite, who is a business partner with her husband, Michael Cornthwaite, said the Container Park “will continue to get better and better,” but FRG needs to focus on other businesses it has downtown.

FRG oversees operation of the Downtown Cocktail Room — one of the pioneers in the east Fremont Street area — the Beat Coffeehouse & Records, Emergency Arts and the Inspire building, which includes bars, a news cafe and a theater. They will soon open a second bar, the Roof, at Inspire, and Scullery in the first floor of the Ogden high-rise condo building.

“I think we all feel a big weight has been lifted so we can focus on the Scullery, Inspire and, frankly, Emergency Arts, too,” Jennifer Cornthwaite said.

Doug McPhail, director of retail operations for Downtown Project, said in a statement: “We have enjoyed working with Future Restaurant Group, and we’re excited to see their Container Park concepts expand and grow downtown. … We’re excited to see how Container Park evolves going forward.”

Cornthwaite said she doesn’t know what what is planned to replace FRG’s Container Park businesses, which will move out in the middle of this month. She also said the Boozery and Pork & Beans could reopen elsewhere in the future.

“We’re focused on not only community but doing something to fuel that passionate desire to make something that is interesting,” she said.

Despite the Container Park’s draw — it reported in March some 300,000 visitors over its first 10 weeks — these aren’t the first businesses to leave the outdoor mall. Alios, an architectural and entertainment lighting business, announced in early March that it, too, would be pulling up stakes in April.

What’s different about FRG’s move is that Michael Cornthwaite is considered to be one of the key people to persuade Tony Hsieh to move his Zappos.com headquarters from Henderson into the former Las Vegas City Hall, just a few blocks from the Container Park.

Hsieh’s Downtown Project, a $350 million private redevelopment venture, has invested in several of FRG’s businesses.

Cornthwaite, one of the pioneers first to move into the Fremont East Entertainment District with the Downtown Cocktail Room, is also a key figure in the move to restore and renovate the historic Huntridge Theater.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown; he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

CORRECTION: This version corrects the name of one of the closing businesses to The Beatnik. | (April 2, 2014)

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