The voice mail messages are becoming all too familiar. Usually it’s a reader calling saying they went to Restaurant XYZ and it was closed for business.
But today? Today, the voice mail was from a restaurant owner.
“Saturday is our last day,” said Ernesto Gomez, owner of Opa! Greek Cuisine on Sixth Avenue, who has run the restaurant with business partner Roberto Ruiz since August 2007.
When I called him back to ask him why they were closing, he said, “We were fighting for a long time to survive, the situation just caught up with this.” It was a combination of a crowded restaurant market and the downturn in the economy. "The winter was bad for everybody," he said. So they put the restaurant on the market and sold it to someone else (more on that in a bit).
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So what’s next for the business partners?
They don’t know. They haven’t thought that far ahead. Will they leave the restaurant industry? Don’t count on it. The duo are veterans of It’s Greek to Me and Johnnie’s Greek Café. They’ve worked in the business a long while and they will work in it again, Ernesto said. For now, they’re concentrating on closing up shop. They’ll be open for regular business hours today through Saturday. On Saturday, they’re throwing what they’re calling a “Closing Celebration.” They’d like to invite all their regular customers to come in and dine. The menu will be limited, though. They have to reduce their inventory to prepare for closing.
Before dining there, I had heard mixed things about the food at Opa. My experiences at the restaurant were nothing but good. I gave them top marks for their gyros when I wrote a roundup of six gyro sandwiches in September. Here’s what I wrote about the gyros at Opa!:
Opa! Greek Cuisine6104 Sixth Ave., Tacoma253-565-0505Price: $8.25 lunch or $9.25 dinner (served with fries)If there was a perfect gyros sandwich to be found for this report, it was found at Opa. The gyros sandwich at this full-service, sit-down Greek restaurant hit all my hallmarks – soft pita, lots of meat, a tart tzatziki sauce and crisp, fresh veggies.Sandwiches here are hefty and served open faced, making them difficult to eat as a traditional hand-held sandwich. If you do, it’s a three-napkin, two-handed affair.Opa’s gyros sandwich began with a soft, pillowy pita bread that was grill-warmed and soft, but with a toothsome, chewy pull. Meaty slices of juicy beef and lamb came with crispy, seared edges, and fragrant with oregano and garlic. The sandwich was finished with a drizzle of a tart yogurt tzatziki sauce, crisp purple onions, ripe tomatoes and chopped lettuce. The accompanying skins-on fries were golden brown and tasted like what they’re supposed to – potatoes.
Here’s the full review of the gyros I sampled at six restaurants for my gyros report in September: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/tntdiner/2009/09/04/drop-in-dining-gyros-roundup/
So what’s next for the location? An Italian restaurant called Mona Pizza and Pasta. I’ll give more details about the restaurant after I get in touch with the owners.