¿Hola Newton?

After The Artist's Cafe closes Saturday, the building's owner says the restaurant space won't be vacant for long.

"If (Artist's Cafe owner) Louie (Dimarhos) decides to close, he will move out some time next month," said property owner Lynn Nguyen. "After he moves out, another new owner is going to move in."

Nguyen said an owner of a Hickory Mexican restaurant is interested in opening a business in the downtown Newton restaurant space that includes kitchen equipment and furniture. She said she is hopeful that the new restaurant will be open within six months.

This week, owners of The Artist's Cafe, Dimarhos and Tim Andrews, announced plans to close the restaurant after five years in business.

Citing an inability to "come to terms on a new, more affordable lease," the business partners closed the restaurant to the public Friday night.

A final, private party was planned for Saturday, Dimarhos said.

"I totally understand how slow it is right now," said Nguyen.

As owner Nagano's restaurants in Conover and Hickory, she said she understands the economic challenges of operating a business during the current economic climate.

She also said, however, when it comes to negotiating a new lease for The Artist's Cafe, the rates set in a proposed lease she offered are "good" at about $4,500 for the 1,700-square-foot restaurant space. Those lease negotiations also included payments toward kitchen equipment in the restaurant, she said. Owners of The Artist's Cafe sought a rent in the $2,700 range, she said.

"I cannot rent out the building for $2,700, and that is what they asked me for, including payments for my kitchen equipment. I also pay for the building insurance and everything like that ... I think I already do a lot for them," she said, adding her prospective new tenant for the space is currently paying a higher rent rate. "In Hickory they are paying $7,500 for a very small square footage. They are very happy to move in."

Nguyen also said she understands the decision to close The Artist's Cafe.

"If (Dimarhos) decides to move out, I totally understand, and I appreciate his business," she said.

Nguyen also owns The Artist's Lofts adjacent to the restaurant, and she said two of the building's four apartments are currently vacant. She plans to wait to move in new tenants until after the restaurant space is vacated and a new business opens.

"I want it to look good," she said.

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