Patrons enjoy lunch at Green Valley Grill in Septmeber 2011 at the long-standing restaurant's new location on Main Street. The restaraunt closed Wednesday. (File photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian).
WATSONVILLE — Green Valley Grill, which has been a well-known Watsonville restaurant for more than two decades and a meeting spot for businesses and other organizations, closed its doors Wednesday, owner Ray Rodriguez confirmed.
Rodriguez cited decreasing sales and increasing costs.
“The economy caught up with me,” he said Friday. “It’s really tough out there.”
“I tried to keep it open as long as I could, but it’s hard to make a living right now,” he said.
An employee who asked not to be identified said that paychecks have been bouncing for about a year, and that he and others had to be paid in cash.
The employee also said that he and other employees would often field “ominous, threatening phone calls” from bill collectors and other businesses to which Rodriguez owed money.
But Rodriguez said that he has already spoken with his employees and told them that he will settle up the payroll issues when he is able to.
“Everybody’s going to get their money,” he said. “We’ll take care of all that.”
“It’s hard for me too,” he added. “It’s been my life for 22 years.”
The restaurant is currently under investigation by the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control for allegedly purchasing alcohol from the Grocery Outlet next door, instead of a licensed retailer as is required by law, according to ABC spokesman John Carr.
If the allegations were found to be true, the restaurant was facing disciplinary action that could have ranged from a warning to revocation of its liquor license.
Because Green Valley Grill didn’t have any other violations, however, sanctions for the restaurant might have fallen on the less severe scale, Carr said.
The restaurant was located at 40 Penny Lane for years until it relocated to 972 Main Street on Aug. 1, 2011.
At its former location, the restaurant offered nearly 8,000 square feet of space and was a meeting spot for dozens of businesses and organizations such as Watsonville Rotary and Freedom Rotary, and the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.
“It’s sad to have a long-time business in our community close,” Chamber Chairwoman Katie Mahan said. “They were just iconic, and the best dining house we had in town.”
The new location was 3,200 square feet and had seating for about 30 people.
Once boasting 20 employees, the staff had been whittled down to nine when the restaurant closed, Rodriguez said.
Many of them have already found new jobs, he said.
“I want to thank my staff, employees and the loyal customers who have stayed with me,” he said.
Beach Street Diner, which opened in 1979, closed its doors in December 2011. Owners Jen and Breese White also cited the ailing economy.
The new owner is currently renovating the building at 435 West Beach Street and plans to reopen within a month.
Anyone with questions about the closure may contact Dolores Machado at 707-0086.
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