Cracker Barrel latest Portland casualty for stores shuttering amid crime wave
By Emma Colton
A Portland Cracker Barrel abruptly shut down this week, with employees reporting that the closure is due to security issues in the area.
“There’s a lot of theft,” local man Steve Goodwin told KGW when news of the closure spread in town. “People on drugs.”
Cracker Barrel confirmed to Fox News Digital on Wednesday that its location at the Jantzen Beach mall shuttered, explaining the company made the decision after evaluating “the performance” of the store.
“As a standard course of business, we continually evaluate the performance of our stores, using various criteria to ensure we are meeting the needs of our guests and our business. With that, we have made the difficult decision to close our Jantzen Beach, Oregon Cracker Barrel location,” a representative told Fox News Digital.
The statement did not say which criteria was used to evaluate the store, and noted the chain is now focused on “assisting our employees during this transition.”
Employees, however, were able to shed more light on the closure. They explained to KGW that they were called to an emergency meeting held by management on Monday and told the closure was due to security issues, KGW reported.
The area of Portland is littered with drug paraphernalia, clothes tags on the streets, and abandoned shopping carts, according to the local outlet.
The closure came as a shock to diners who tried to visit the location on Tuesday, and other locals who thought non-violent crimes would not impact businesses.
“I would think a retail restaurant wouldn’t be impacted that much by the crime and drug problems and that sort of thing,” neighbor Ron Schmidt told KGW.
Portland has been struggling with rampant crime in recent years.
Researchers for the California Partnership for Safe Communities compiled crime data from Portland earlier this year, specifically examining homicides and non-fatal shootings from 2019 to 2021. The data found that there was a 144% increase in homicides from January 2019 to June 2021 while non-fatal shootings increase by 241% from January 2019 to December 2021.
The violent crimes began ticking up in 2019, with 36 homicides that year compared to 26 in 2018. The city had held a 20-year average of 28 homicides per year, with 2004 as the outlier at 29 homicides.
That average was soon obliterated when the data showed 2020 notched a 58% increase in homicides compared to the year prior, at 57 deaths, and 2021 recorded a 54% increase, at 88 homicides. The number of homicides in 2021 was a 238% increase from numbers recorded in 2018.
Crime issues have prompted other businesses in the city to close or move to safer areas with more foot traffic.
“Being downtown was a big part of the identity of the store,” Jason Leivian, owner of Floating World Comics, told KPTV this week when explaining he moved the store from downtown Portland to a shopping mall in the city.
Leivian said that he’s watched crime tick up in downtown Portland since 2020, and noted that foot traffic has also dwindled, motivating him to make the move.
“I don’t think it’s coming back anytime soon, maybe in a couple of years or so,” Leivian said. “But who knows? I waited two years and this is where we’re at now.”
Crime has also directly impacted some business owners in the city. The owner of restaurant Hello India described how thieves broke into her establishment earlier this summer and stole everything from electronics, cash, and alcohol to serving trays. The crime has left her struggling after already coping with setbacks from the coronavirus.
“Coming back from COVID was very, very difficult. On top of that, this kind of activities” will mean restaurants will have to “shut the door” or have a solid backup support plan to survive, Mehar Ali told KATU earlier this month. She said she will continue operating the restaurant, but called on locals to “help me out” and continue ordering food.
In addition to local stores coping with the fallout of crime, coffee chain behemoth Starbucks announced last month that two locations in Portland would shutter due concerns for the safety of workers and customers.