A St. Louis-based fast food restaurant is in negotiations to purchase Osama’s, a popular coffee house and restaurant located off the MU campus.
Lion’s Choice would like to open two to three restaurants in Columbia, including the Osama’s location.
Tom Ginos with Valley Beef, LLC, the official franchiser of Lion’s Choice restaurants, said they are seriously looking at the Osama’s location, which is located just off the MU campus at 406 S. Ninth St. Osama Yanis, owner of the restaurant, did not immediately return phone calls on Monday regarding the negotiations, but had previously declined to comment regarding any potential sale. However, Lion’s Choice officials did talk about their interest in the Columbia property.
“We are definitely pursuing it,” Ginos said. “But it’s not a done deal.”
Ginos said he was unable to get more specific until things are finalized sometime in two or three weeks.
The Lion’s Choice restaurants, of which there are 19 in Missouri and Illinois, tout fresh-cut roast beef sandwiches as their specialty, according to the company’s Web site.
Ginos said they have not pinpointed any other potential Columbia areas, but that the campus location was the highest priority.
Yanis also owns the Coffee Zone, a similar shop located at 11 N. Ninth St.
The land that Osama’s sits on is under the name of Yanis Real Estate, L.L.C., according to the Boone County Tax Assessor’s Office. At the time of its last assessment, the property was valued at $95,000. An assessment measures the value of the building and the land that it sits on; it does not include any business-related equipment associated with the property.
The Heidelberg, another restaurant directly adjacent to Osama’s, is assessed at $268,000. Domino’s Pizza, which has a location at the corner of Ninth Street and University Avenue, is assessed at $254,000.
The possibility of Lion’s Choice coming to Columbia doesn’t surprise one local restaurant expert.
“Lion’s Choice has been wanting to come to Columbia for a while,” said John Beverstein, president of the Columbia chapter of the Missouri Restaurant Association.
“Columbia is getting to be the size that is attracting more and more chain restaurants,” he said. “As they come in, it is going to make it harder on local restaurants.”
Beverstein said other chain restaurants are beginning to make their presence known in Columbia. Just recently, Quiznos Subs began construction on a Broadway location and has undisclosed plans to build another Quiznos in Columbia, he said.
“You are going to see more and more chains coming to Columbia, but I don’t think that will make it impossible for local restaurateurs who do a good job and serve food at a fair price to continue to thrive,” Beverstein said.