TNT Diner

Tacoma restaurant Adriatic Grill will permanently close Sunday

Chef Bill Trudnowski with mushroom soup at Adriatic Grill.
Chef Bill Trudnowski with mushroom soup at Adriatic Grill. Staff file, 2014

Tacoma restaurant Adriatic Grill has announced it will close Sunday (Feb. 25).

The closure is due to a property sale. The owners of the property opted not to renew the lease, said chef and co-owner Bill Trudnowski, who tried to buy the building but couldn’t get financing.

“I tried everything to get the money to get the building,” said Trudnowski.

The longtime Northwest chef opened the restaurant 10 year ago in the shadow of the Tacoma Mall. Co-owner Monique Trudnowski ran the front of house operations while Bill worked in the kitchen. It was a restaurant unlike most of the chain offerings in the immediate area and was one of few higher-end restaurants near the mall.

The Trudnowskis oversaw a major remodel of the former Cucina Cucina and created a menu covering a broad swath of the Mediterranean featuring the chef’s specialties, such as the creamy porcini soup and bolognese rigatoni.

A year after opening their doors, the recession hit, digging a financial hole that the co-owners have spent a decade recovering from. At times, the financial hole was small and at other times it was bigger than they thought they could manage.

“We racked up debt along the way to get through that recession, and it’s been a battle to pay that off,” said Trudnowski. “We would’ve been better off if we had opened in 2014 instead of 2007.”

Trudnowski broke the news to the restaurant’s 36 staff members Wednesday morning at an all-crew meeting.

He said the meeting was emotional as he thanked employees and made note of their years of service. He said the tenure of his employees is much higher than the industry average.

“I went down the list how long everybody had worked here — 11 years, 8 years, 7 years, 5, 6, 3. That did me in,” he said. Immediately following the meeting, crew members went back to work prepping for lunch, he said.

He added that most of his employees said they’d come along with him to whatever is next.

And that’s what Trudnowski is working on now.

“I’m not going to sit around six months,” said Trudnowski. “I have enough equipment to open two smaller restaurants.”

He said he’d like to talk with landlords with spaces that are restaurant ready.

“I need to find a place that’s the right size in the right market that I can work it and make it worthwhile for everybody. This place has been very rewarding but also very difficult,” said Trudnowski. The 270-seat restaurant is 7,000 square feet, and Trudnowski said he’d prefer a space about 4,000-5,000 square feet.

Until something materializes, he said that he’ll be helping crew members next week with filing unemployment claims to make sure they’re financially stable.

The restaurant will keep regular hours Wednesday to Saturday and probably will close early Sunday, the final day.