After 25 years as an underground eatery in the historic Odd Fellows building on Ashland's Plaza, Munchies Restaurant & Bakery has closed its doors.
Owner Michael Cooke of Ashland cited increasing labor and food costs as the reasons for going under at the end of 2012.
"The restaurant industry is a tough business," he says. "If we could have stayed open, we would have."
Munchies, known for its hand-cut fries, fresh burgers, hearty burritos, carrot cake and marionberry pie, opened in 1987. Cooke was the second owner, taking over eight years ago.
Mix Sweet Shop, located above Munchies, plans to expand into the empty space and begin wholesale baking, says owner Jamie North. She'll extend customer seating into the rear of the restaurant, where the baking is done now.
"We make everything from scratch, using as much local and organic ingredients as possible, and we've been needing more space to make it, as well as more space for seating," says North.
"We've got a strong business, a lot of local customers, skilled baristas, Stumptown coffee, much of it organic," she says. "We make our own ice cream, croissants, bread, egg pies."
Mix is on the north end of the creekside row of businesses lining the Plaza. Its seating has been minimal, with just a few tables inside and out on the sidewalk.
North says she may offer some seating downstairs at the bakery outlet, but that is yet to be worked out with city planners.
"The local customers, that's what really keeps us going," she says, though noting tourists give her business a big boost every season.
North supplies breads for Amuse Restaurant and Liquid Assets wine bar and plans to expand her clientele when the downstairs bakery is going in about May, she says.
Don Comte has owned the large and historic Independent Order of Odd Fellows building for the past year. The brick structure was built in 1879 and also houses Black Sheep, Greenleaf Restaurant and FlowerTyme.
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.