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PAWTUCKET â With its linen tablecloths, stylish interior and impressive views of Slater Mill and the Blackstone River, the Cresta Bar and Ristorante was hailed as a welcome addition to the downtown when it debuted last fall. Yet, a little over a year later, the Italian restaurant has closed and its owner and proprietor is questioning what kind of market exists in the city and who his customer base is.
Jeffrey Karll, a Boston area investor eatery who also operated it, said the lease was up on October 31. Since then, he said he has had an option to renew the lease on a week-to-week basis, but will remain closed until while he decides what to do next.
âWe might re-do the concept,â he said, saying that a Mexican restaurant or a âgastro pubâ which offers local, and farm-to-table hamburgers and other âbar-typeâ food are both ideas that he is kicking around. Another possibility, he said, is a nightclub.
The closing of Cresta unfortunately joins the recent demise of a gift shop, 7 Stones Emporium, that just opened in July in the McDevitt building, and a small custom leather shop that operated for several years near the municipal parking garage. Numerous other vacant storefronts line the section of Main Street that runs from the garage to the Blackstone Valley Visitors Center (which, in itself, has struggled to fill its leased spaces). The Grant, a commercial and residential building at the heart of the downtown, has a number of commercial tenants but clearly room for more.
However, Karll said his biggest surprise and disappointment is in the lack of people and general foot traffic along Main Street and in the downtown. He said that particularly after 5 p.m. when offices close and on the weekends, the city is largely quiet, and that translates to empty tables at his restaurant. âAfter 7:30 at night, where are we getting our customers from?â mused Karll. âOn Saturday afternoons, sometimes cars don't even drive by for 15 minutes.â He added that the restaurant has benefited from its proximity to the Gamm Theatre, but that venue isn't open all the time. âThere's still a long way to go, but I think the city has been trying to do a better job of keeping things clean and secure,â he said.
Read more in our print edition.