Fountain on Main owner ‘at a loss’ after lease’s cancellation

A Springfield business owner and his staff are “shocked” and unsure of their future after the lease on their space was canceled this week.

Fountain on Main owner Geoff Norman said his month-to-month lease was canceled, and he has until the end of September to move out of the building.

“This is a place of positive values, positive people,” Norman said. “I’m just shocked, devastated.”

Bushnell building owner Jim Lagos confirmed the business was on a month-to-month lease, but declined to comment further.

Fountain on Main celebrated its 19th anniversary earlier this summer. The ‘50s style soda shop has called the Bushnell building home since its start.

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Norman and his mother, Kylene, said the business was a part of the initial revitalization of Springfield’s downtown in the early 2000s. Not many businesses were on the Main Street and Fountain Avenue area, save for businesses like a flower shop and a dance studio.

The business started off as a small meal stop with 16 chairs and expanded in size and scope, Norman said. In the business’ life, it has seen many new faces and old. Norman described his base of customers as incredibly “loyal”: some coming in five times a week to eat homestyle cooking or drink milkshakes.

“It’s a family run business with family coming in,” Norman said. “This is just as upsetting to them as it is to us.”

It also has been a hotspot for birthday parties and other celebrations, with revelers dawning poodle skirts and tunes of another time filling the diner air.

The heartbeat of the downtown began to resonate in a different part of town. Business hours were cut back to lunchtime operation hours. The COVID-19 pandemic, too, had an impact on the restaurant as communal dining spaces were shut down and consumers stayed at home.

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The business was paying a reduced rent for the space, an arrangement that began around the time the pandemic started. They never missed a payment for rent, Norman said.

Norman said in the past few weeks, it felt like things were beginning to bounce back for the business.

“I love and am going to miss our customers,” he said. “But right now, I don’t know which way is up.”

A new business is expected to take up space in the restaurant, Norman said. He’s unsure of his future plans.

“We’re just completely at a loss,” he said. “And we’re still in shock.”

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