More than 100 people have written letters objecting to an application to allow a building in Houston Square, in Johnstone, to be converted.
They fear the premises - currently a co-op store and charity shop - could be revamped by a multi-national food and drink company posing a threat to independent cafes and pubs.
Noise and parking issues could have a negative effect on elderly residents living nearby, they claim.
Local councillor Andy Doig has led a campaign to urge the council to reject the planning application.
He claims the arcade has always been "retail orientated" and granting an application would not reflect the character of the square.
Local deli and restaurant owner Scott Keenan, 36, said he was concerned for the livelihood of his business, Papamacs, if a national chain took over the lease.
He described it as a "David and Goliath" situation.
Scott said: "If someone opened up next door and it was a deli then fair enough, but this is a big company and no one can compete with that.
"We are a niche market, I come from a fine dining background and I am still using the same ingredients.
"What I do is not going to be anything like what a big chain pub will do but, of course, it would affect us because it will be next door.
"My biggest concern is for the local pubs which have been here for ever. This is about protecting people's shops."
Renfrewshire Council said it had received 115 letters of objection, and one in support of the application.
George Kennedy, secretary of Johnstone Community Council, said if the premises became a public house, the noise could disturb elderly residents.
He said: "There are only 10 paces between the would-be bar and sheltered housing and the elderly people in the flats will be above and opposite it."
Councillor Doig said residents took no issue with the proposals to create a retail space, but would not welcome a pub.
A Renfrewshire Council spokesman said: "The council has received a planning application which would enable the subdivision of the existing Co-op store and an adjacent charity store into various combinations of shops, offices and a public house.
"A report on the application will be presented to Ren-frewshire Council's Planning and Property Policy Board on March 11."