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Fingerlakes Mall

Patrons dine at the food court at Fingerlakes Mall in Aurelius in 2015.

Two restaurants are leaving Fingerlakes Mall Dec. 31, but each has a different opinion on the role of the mall's management in their exit.

Subway will leave the mall after 18 years there, said David Liseno, who also owns the sandwich chain's North Street, Auburn Plaza and Auburn Walmart locations. (He does not own Subway's Cayuga Community College location.) Liseno cited economic reasons for the closure, but added that the mall's general manager, Rene Patterson, tried to keep Subway there with rent concessions.

"I have nothing but good things to say about the folks there. We had a good run," Liseno said. "Rene is a terrific general manager who works with his tenants."

Liseno said the mall Subway's half-dozen or so employees will be offered positions at his other Auburn locations, which remain "robust."

BB's Pizza Express, meanwhile, will move back to its original location at 250 Genesee St., said Josephine Van der Werff, whose family owns the business. 

Van der Werff also cited economic reasons, mainly the mall's low foot traffic, for the decision. However, her family was also frustrated by the mall's management, she said.

"We've been promised that they'd bring in more stores, and they bring in more food places," she said. "There's no communication in that mall. You don't know who's coming and who's going."

Van der Werff said her family plans to open the Genesee Street BB's on Dec. 31 as the mall location closes. The family has been renovating the space for a planned reopening. The new BB's there will seat 20, twice as many people as it previously did, and also serve foods it was contractually prohibited from serving at the mall, like subs.

The exit of Subway and BB's Pizza will leave Fingerlakes Mall with two food businesses going into 2019: The Riverbend coffee shop, located in the J.C. Penney wing, and Buck Tucker's Home Cookin', located in the mall's Café Square food court. 

In an emailed statement, Patterson said that chain restaurants in New York are feeling pressure due to the increasing minimum wage.

"We wish (them) the very best and are disappointed to see Subway and BB's Pizza leave, who are both good operators," he said. "We are in several discussions for these spaces in Café Square. They won't be vacant long."

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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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Features editor for The Citizen.