Old Sutherlands Becoming a New Restaurant Area? Residents Have Mixed Opinions


Honor Westcott, Reporter

For the last three years, the vacant Sutherlands lot near the Mesa Mall has been host to carnivals and in fall, Spirit Halloween, but for the majority of the year, the Sutherlands remains empty. However, there is hope for the future of this eyesore. Mesa County has released plans to transform this lot into a new area that will include additional restaurant locations.

The plan is called the Sutherlands Redevelopment project. The project is currently in the bidding process. According to Senior Planner, Scott Peterson, the construction is estimated to be completed by the spring of 2023. The project will consist of demolishing the Sutherlands building and constructing new restaurants. Outdoor dining, gift shops, and drive-thru windows are all features that will be included in this new dining area. As of now, Chipotle is the only restaurant that confirmed another location in the building, however, Cracker Barrel and Texas Roadhouse are also planning to have locations at the development. These will be the next restaurants to officially place their offers.

Many Mesa County residents have expressed excitement about this new development and the new restaurants it has to offer. Residents will now more than ever have a larger variety of options to choose from when dining out including some new choices. The introduction of the Cracker Barrel is something that already has Grand Junction residents buzzing about the redevelopment. In a poll conducted by the Daily Sentinel Grand Junction, citizens were asked what restaurants they wanted to see come to Grand Junction next. Cracker Barrel was at the top of the list winning with 20% of the votes.

Many residents are also excited about the location of this development. The building’s location will be a convenience to Mesa Mall shoppers allowing them to grab a quick bite to eat between errands. Neighboring Fruita has also shown excitement for this new location since the development is off 6&50 “I’m excited about the new restaurants,” said Fruita local Devyn Allen, “especially since it’s something that’s a lot closer to me than most of the restaurants in Grand Junction.”

While it’s evident that anticipation is in the air for this new project, some residents also have some concerns for the future of the area around the Mesa Mall. Many are worried that the area will face issues with traffic once construction is complete and restaurants are running. In response to a Facebook question asking residents’ opinions about the new restaurants, user Shirley O. writes “Why is everything moving towards the mall area? Traffic is terrible now!” The area around the Mesa Mall is very condensed with restaurants and shops. This can sometimes result in traffic, especially during the weekends and on holidays. The development will only result in increased traffic in this area, which worries residents because it will make driving around the mall more stressful.

There are also concerns that this new area will be taking away from other parts of Grand Junction like North Ave. While the area by the Mesa Mall has been growing rapidly, North Ave. has seen a large decline in the number of restaurants and shops. There is a shift in restaurants moving towards the Mall and away from places like North Ave. causing residents of those areas to have to commute further toward the mall to dine. An example of this is the Texas Roadhouse, North Avenue’s most popular restaurant. Once official, Texas Roadhouse plans to move from North Ave. to the Sutherlands development. North Ave. will take a hit from this move and some residents are outraged and arguing that there is enough business in Mesa County to build another on the Sutherlands lot rather than move the restaurant out of North Ave. 

It is clear that the future of this development will definitely have an impact on Mesa County residents and the area around the mall. Whether it will be a positive or negative influence is still to be determined we really can’t know until the development is up and running. It will definitely be interesting to watch as construction plays out and business begins in the spring. Mesa County citizens can only hope that this project will further add to the county.