There was nothing sinister about 1123 Adams St.

Once a private residence, it had been bought out by developers when Adams had exploded after the highway went in around 1995. But their neighbors in back refused to sell no matter the price, meaning that the builders had to make do with a thin strip of land–not until the occupant died in 2006 were they able to acquire the rear property, and even then their backyard neighbors refused to sell either, and there was no room for expansion on either side what with the other businesses that had developed there.

So you had a very attractive building with all its parking out back, an arcane arrangement that meant most people on Adams could never figure out how to get in at all. That, and its tantalizing location so close to the shopping district, the student ghetto, and campus, meant that every restaurant that filled the space inevitably failed.

The first occupant (sliding in a year after construction began) was 6 Dudes Pizza, which quickly became a campus legend due to their beer-battered breadsticks (served with a pitcher of beer and beer nuts). They didn’t deliver, though, so eating in was the only option; despite the efforts of a handful of devotees, it folded after a year and a half. Drunken freshmen with the munchies couldn’t be relied upon to figure out its tiny and arcane lot (or the parsimonious solution of parking next door).

Next was The Vegan Fork, which sought to capitalize on the tendency of those with extremely particular dietary wishes to orbit university campuses like asteroids around the Sun. Those who wanted to eat food that had never been, had never had the potential to be, and had never been produced by anything with motor neurons could surely be relied upon to walk or cycle there, making the parking situation irrelevent–right? Wrong. For all their pouring of blood on the fur-wearers of Sigma Qoppa Nu, they tended to drive the same Land Rovers. The Vegan Fork capsized after twenty-two months.

A college entrepreneur with a little venture capital remade no. 1123 next as Movie Eatery. Each booth was transformed into a mini theater with a big screen, and diners were able to select either a full-length movie or a TV episode or two to watch while they noshed (in theater-style seats no less). The rather slim selection of entertainment dinged Movie Eatery somewhat, as did a nuisance lawsuit by indie distributor Shutter Features. Dreadful advertising and amateur signage didn’t help, and Movie Eatery was belly up before the local annual film festival could come to its rescue.

Locals who had been providing barbecue to tailgaters at the university bought the location next and turned it into Big Jim’s University BBQ. The joint earned rave reviews for its sauce, which had long been an open secret among the ‘gaters, and its meats were locally sourced and slaughtered, which played well with the granola crowd. It earned less than rave reviews for cleanliness, though, and the state health department shut it down after a surprise inspection. Big Jim, without the capital to make the needed improvements, slunk back into the world of back-alley BBQ where there were no inspections.

And who could forget Hrvatska, the Croatian restaurant that occupied the site and expanded the parking lot? It was trendy for a time among the avant-garde who wanted to boast about a cuisine that the bourgeois had never heard of. The revelation that zagrebački odrezak was actually veal hurt their cachet among that demographic, and the overwhelming preponderance of lamb-based dishes eventually became tiresome to most.

Today, the site is occupied by a local independent maker of submarine sandwiches, and locals have begun taking bets as to how long it’ll last in what locals nerds have begun calling the “Defense Against the Dark Arts” building, as no restaurant there seemed to last much more than a year.

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