A once busy corner of South Park has fallen silent with the sudden closure last weekend of South Park Abbey, a popular neighborhood presence for the last seven years.
The familiar indoor-outdoor restaurant and bar at Fern and Grape streets occupied a space that has continuously been home to a restaurant since 2003.
Co-owner Adam Neitzke, who took over the former South Park Bar & Grill in 2010, said Thursday that mounting expenses, debt and a sharp decline in business early in the year left him no choice but to close the restaurant, even after having had his best year yet in 2016.
“We had really bad weather for two months early in the year and were down 30 percent, so we took a pretty big hit those two months, and business contracted compared to last year, even when it started to come back,” said Neitzke, who co-owned the restaurant with his mother Darlene.
“l didn’t shorten hours when I should have because I worried about people losing their jobs. South Park Abbey was always about the people. Between the customers and the staff, we were all a family.”
At the same time that the restaurant was struggling to remain in business, Neitzke said he had to be away for a while as he was consumed with opening a gourmet doughnut shop, Rad Donuts, in the Los Angeles area.
Faced with mounting debt from unpaid taxes to the state and having to dip into personal funds to keep the Abbey going, Neitzke said he made the difficult decision to close. The final day of business was Sunday, three days after the owners announced on Facebook that they were shuttering the pub.
“I was so stressed out all the time, I thought it would be great if we could end it on our own terms,” Neitzke said.
The restaurant and bar were normally crowded on weekends, when it remained open until 2 a.m., and also during NFL season when patrons could catch multiple games on its 10 big-screen TVs.
Because of the restaurant’s high-profile location, kitty-corner from Target Express and across the street from the popular Italian restaurant, Piacere Mio, Neitzke says he’s had a lot of interest from people considering buying his lease and liquor license. He said he is currently weighing multiple offers.
He added that the “Abbey is not dead,” but he was deliberately ambiguous about its future in a different location.