This story is part of a series on the disruptions to local small businesses expected in the community of Altadena when a new Walmart Neighborhood Market opens next year. To read the rest of the series, check out the links at the end of this story.
When Amir Siddiqi took over Jim’s Burgers two years ago, he saw promise in the rundown Altadena establishment. He knew there was a lot of work to be done.
The tables were sticky and the floors were encrusted with dirt. There were cracks in the window and air penetrated through bullet holes in the glass.
“The previous owner did not really take care of it,” Siddiqi said. “His philosophy was, the dirtier the business looked, more people would come in. He wanted to treat this place like a hole in the wall.”
Today, Jim’s Burgers has a much brighter touch.
There is a colorful mural on the wall illustrating the area around the restaurant and the menu has healthier options like turkey burgers, Philly cheese steak and salads.
Even though the restaurant is across the street from a McDonald’s, it remains a popular hangout on Lincoln Avenue. There’s a constant crowd, with people lining up to get a bite to eat. Sales at the restaurant grew 12 percent last year, Siddiqi said.
“We’re more of a home cooked-style food, rather than fast food,” Siddiqi said. “This location has been a very neighborhood-oriented gathering place.”
Siddiqi said he expects his business to get a further boost when the new Walmart Neighborhood Market opens down the street. He hopes for a 20 to 30 percent sales increase.
“For a big business like that to come into our community, I think it’s very good because it does bring jobs and economic growth to the area,” Siddiqi said.
Siddiqi points to how his business is already helped by the county redevelopment project across the street, which brought a Super King grocery store and a 24 Hour Fitness into the area several years ago. The gym brings in customers from La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta and Pasadena, who stop by his restaurant for turkey burgers.
He doesn’t think nearby stores should fear Walmart. Instead, the retail giant will bring in more traffic, which means more shoppers and more people spending money in Altadena, he added.
“I think if the smaller businesses are able to do better services and better pricing, they will come out ahead,” Siddiqi said.