The Front Street Cafe inside the Imperial Bar is currently closed. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The Front Street Cafe inside the Imperial Bar is currently closed. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Front Street Cafe gone but ‘tot’ forgotten

Late-night grub shack closes, but another will soon take its place

Late night food options in downtown Juneau went from slim to one this week.

Until this week there was Pelmeni, the Russian dumpling standby in the Wharf building, open until 1:30 a.m., 3:30 on weekends, and Front Street Cafe, a burger and bar food haunt for hungry drinkers in the Imperial Saloon.

Those two were whittled down to one this week with the announcement, brought by an orange sign posted on the Imperial’s door, that Front Street Cafe will close permanently. Owner Keith Crocker has worked the late night market for four years, he told the Empire by phone, but it was time to move on.

The restaurant business is tough work for slim margins, he said, and he’s going to focus on his other ventures. Crocker thanked his customers for supporting the business.

“It was just time for us to get out of the restaurant business,” Crocker said. “That restaurant was a good niche because Juneau really needs something on Sundays and really needs something late at night because there’s not a lot of choices.”

[Amid construction, owner puts DeHarts up for sale]

Front Street was popular for its specialty sandwiches and super tots, a messy dish of tater tots, bacon, cheese, sauce and green onions.

Imperial manager Shelly Hurt agreed with Crocker’s sentiment: there needs to be more on offer for late night snacking downtown. They’re working on it, she said.

The Imperial, which leased the space to Crocker, will soon open a new restaurant where Front Street was, Hurt told the Empire on Wednesday. They’re still hammering out the details with a new partner and working on moving in new kitchen equipment.

She said she couldn’t yet go into detail on what the new restaurant will offer as nothing is yet final. The menu may change, but the hours will be similar, she said.

“Whatever we choose to do, it will be open late night,” Hurt said.

The Imperial is working as fast as it can to get a new restaurant open sometime in the next month or two, she added.

Crocker is part of local business group Capital Ventures and is part owner of the gardening supply store Plant People.

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.

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