Add another restaurant space to the handful of notable vacancies at one of the valley’s most-high profile entertainment complexes.
Today, the owner of Acqua Pazza California Bistro at The River in Rancho Mirage announced the restaurant is closing its doors.
“I’m really annoyed, I love this place, they have the best lobster roll that exists on the west coast,” said longtime customer Jeri Todd.
After 10 years, the restaurant will be serving its last meals this Sunday.
“We’ll miss it. It’s one of the best places in town to eat,” said Todd.
Owner Jerry Keller, also owner of Lulu California Bistro in downtown Palm Springs says the decision came while considering whether to renew its lease for another 10 years at The River.
With the success of Lulu, Keller admits it became too difficult to run both places.
“That just took off, it just requires a huge amount of time and energy to keep it going the way it is,” Keller said.
Acqua Pazza’s closure will leave nearly 100 employees without a job, including assistant general manager Delia Diaz Escobar who’s worked at the restaurant since it opened.
“It’s going to be better for all of us, we’re all going to be good, and when one door closes, another opens,” Escobar said.
Keller says he tried to salvage the restaurant and his employees jobs by selling it, but in the end the sale fell through. That also led him to make the decision to focus his attention on his restaurant in Palm Springs.
“It just didn’t work out, and we just have to put our resources where we know it can do us more good,” Keller said.
Aqua pazza is the latest tenant at The River to announce they’ll close their doors this month. Tulip Hill Winery is also closing shop after 12 years there.
Owner Kristi Brown says foot traffic at The River has dramatically dropped.
In an emailed statment, Brown said, “Many businesses that have left The River have never been replaced and those storefronts have sat empty for years and this has directly impacted our business. We had tried to work with the new owners in signing a short term lease or month to month lease so we could at least stay open through February 2015, but they were unwilling to accommodate us.”
We tried contacting management at The River to comment on the restaurant’s closure, but didn’t hear. Other surrounding businesses say Acqua Pazza leaving won’t help.
Keller says he’s just thankful for the restaurant’s success during its time there.
“Everything has a life, that’s what it is, and we’ve had a great 10 years.”
Gift cards will now be accepted at Lulu’s.