Omnivore - Uncertain future for Bell Street Burritos on Howell Mill

Howell Mill restaurant forced to vacate to make way for an auto-supply store


Just seven months after opening, Bell Street Burritos may be forced to vacate its Howell Mill location to make way for an auto-supply store.

Bell Street owner Matt Hinton said several orange x’s painted on some of the trees on the property are what tipped him off.

“I called the landlord the following Monday,” Hinton said, “and that’s when we heard the news.”

Apparently, Bell Street’s landlord accepted an offer from Advanced Auto Parts to buy the property. The move activated a kick-out clause in Hinton’s lease that will soon require the restaurant to relocate.

Hinton, who started the popular burrito joint out of his home several years ago, says that he was aware of the clause when he signed the five-year lease seven months ago. But at the time, he says, the landlord made it clear that the property was not on the market.

“I’ve talked to a couple of attorneys who were happy to look over the case for me,” Hinton said. “But at this point, I don’t see a clear way out of it.”

When asked if he had a back-up plan, Hinton said that he’s thought of little else. For now, he says he has several alternate locations in mind, many of which are within a mile-and-a-half of the Howell Mill restaurant, and has submitted a letter of intent for at least one of those spots.

“I still want to be accessible to the people who have been coming here regularly since we opened,” Hinton said.

Since the news broke, Bell Street’s neighborhood supporters have held at least two meetings to discuss the restaurant’s future. Hinton hopes he can work with the landlord to stay at the current location as long as possible.

“It’s certainly nothing illegal or anything like that,” said Hinton. “But we’ll just have to wait and see.”