Medford Center studies the future – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

Mall owners using survey to get feedback on popular tenants, new dining concepts

Grace Marin and Lili Marin, 3, enjoy ice cream Wednesday at Cold Stone Creamery at the Medford Center. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]

Several new stores have moved into The Village at Medford Center. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]

LBG Managing Partner Leslie Lundin sits at Tap & Vine in Medford on Wednesday. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]

The village of Medford Center was bustling with activity Wednesday night.

Patrons filled outdoor tables and chairs to eat smashed burgers with thin fries from locally owned Tap & Vine at 559.

Musical artist Adam Gabriel strummed his acoustic guitar, drawing crowds eating ice cream from the popular Cold Stone Creamery chain.

People of all ages flock to Cinemark Tinseltown USA to see the latest films, whether it’s “Top Gun: Maverick” or the biopic “Elvis.”

It could have been called a typical summer evening for Medford Center, which is conducting a survey asking customers what else they would like to see in the place its owners envision “Medford’s living room.”

“We want to know what people want,” said Leslie Lundin, managing partner of LBG Real Estate Companies LLC. “We want to be where people want to go.”

The investigationavailable at the Medford Center’s Facebook page or at through mid-July, includes questions asking customers how many times they’ve visited Medford Center in the past year, what they think of the retail businesses and restaurants already on offer, and even what they think about the safety and cleanliness of the property.

Then there are questions asking customers which of the following restaurant concepts they would like to see next: modern-style Japanese ramen and sushi, Chicago deep-dish pizza, all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue and fried chicken, all-American barbecue and bookstore-café/ coffee.

“I can’t tell you which one is winning right now,” Lundin said with a laugh. “The turnout was phenomenal.”

The survey was developed by a hospitality consultant named Jeffrey McNeal, whom LGB hired to implement the Tap & Vine concept.

“There’s no Korean barbecue in southern Oregon — maybe people don’t even know what it is,” said Lundin. “Jeff said, ‘If you really want to know, you have to ask people – do a survey. They work really well.

Adam Benson, general manager of Tap & Vine, said three of the restaurant concepts, including Korean BBQ, are his. They were born in the planning stages of the current restaurant, which he describes as “pub fare with style”.

“I don’t think we would be in competition with each other; all the boats are going up, and I think we would all help each other,” Benson said of adding new dining establishments to the Village. “I’m ready to open other restaurants here to move the center forward.”

One place a new restaurant could start in the Medford Center is in the former Sears Auto Center. Lundin pointed out the structure during a tour of the mall on Wednesday evening.

“These concepts, at old auto centers, are really, really popular right now,” she said. “If you look at this building and how it’s laid out, it’s only natural for a really cool restaurant. We’ve been saving it to find the right tenant. But we don’t know what the right restaurant is.

LGB officials said they believe restaurants can be an anchor for the mall, a new emerging trend.

“It seemed so obvious,” said Lundin, seated at a table at Tap & Vine. “(Previously it was) very risky, and people didn’t see them as an anchor. We recognize that we need something like this – a restaurant here, with opening doors and a big, vibrant gathering place.

For Medford Center, not all concepts wait to appear; some of them are already established or imminent. That’s true for Burlington and TJMaxx, which are open, while Ross Dress for Less is slated for fall.

“In the retail world, it’s the trifecta of big discount tenants,” said Lundin. “They like to co-locate.”

There were an abundance of people, young and old, at the Medford Center on Wednesday night, including Anita Sanchez, who was eating Cold Stone ice cream with friends after a workout at Village Fitness. She said she comes here three times a week.

“It’s where I come the most,” said Sanchez, who also loves live music and drinks at Tap & Vine. “It’s good. You can walk and have shade.

Sanchez, who responded to the survey, suggested brick oven pizza as a future restaurant concept.

“I would like to see improvements and more shopping,” she said. “It would help this whole region. He had been dead for some time.

“Right now, with all this stuff, it’s fun,” said Sanchez’s friend, Josie Martinez, who hadn’t heard of the investigation until it was mentioned to her. “I would like to see an area with a big fire pit so we can all get together.”

She hopes Medford Center will make improvements to make it more fun and attract more people to the city.

Jean Bradley and her friend Diana Walker sat directly in front of Cold Stone. Bradley suggested that the Medford Center provide more artistic opportunities, including performances.

“Music is the best therapy,” she said, as a pianist played a rendition of Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets.”

Walker, on the other hand, couldn’t talk about Medford Center without mentioning her wedding, which happened around the same time the Medford Center – between Jackson Street, Biddle Road, Stevens Street and Crater Lake Avenue – was opened its doors.

“We had nothing. It was the first mall we had,” Walker said. “It has changed, let’s put it that way.”

Contact journalist Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.

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