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Aug 14, 2009 10:22 PM

Phx: Sol y Sambra

Just read that Sol y Sombra is closing. Thoughts and comments appreciated.

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  1. DC Ranch seems to be a Bermuda Triangle.

    I went once when it was built but it was never again a destination for me. The Rep article seems to imply that the landlord wouldn't budge on rent. It seems many places have come and gone. Maybe they should work with the anchors.

    That said, Chef May has other things in the works and I'm excited to try his new and nearer locations.

    1. I'm crushed, I loved Sol Y Sombra, I am a big fan of Aaron May's and David Johnson's. I always had terrific food and service there. I hope their collective creativity is put to good use at the new venues -- let's hope they're successful and stable.

      1 Reply
      1. re: themis

        This sucks. Sol Y Sambra was the best place in DC Ranch. We loved it for great dinners, good drinks, and it was fun to either hang out and eat a little, or have a nice long feast of a night. Totally bummed. What is the deal with these landlords? My family owned a place out on the west side and the landlord refused to give them any relief, even while losing all of the restaurants/anchors.

      2. I, too, am disappointed. I liked Autostrada as well. However, Aaron May isn't in the kitchen much at any of his establishments. We were told that he stops by Sol y Sombra "once or twice a week." The Happy Hour at the bar at Sol y Sombra wa a particularly good value. Dave Johnson is integral to the operation and made it a better restaurant.

        My wife and I were at the bar at Sol y Sombra last night when Aaron May arrived and the staff first learned that they were closing, at about 7:30 pm. I think it sucks that major news outlets already had the news before he told his employees. Considering that all are now scrambling to look for employment, the least he could have done was tell his employees first.

        Kudos to New Times for breaking the news. Shame on Sol y Sombra for not giving its employees a bit of respect.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ejs1492

          Look for news very shortly on two new restaurants Aaron has been working on "under the radar" that are relatively close to Sol y Sambra and should be open in about 30 days or so. Hopefully - and likely - that some or all of those employees may end up there.

          1. re: Poerz

            Allegedly, one is called 18 Degrees and is slated to open in the space previously occupied by Peter Piper Pizza near the Ice Den.

        2. Why does one chef need so many restaurants in operation or development at one time? With some of the more publicized chefs in Phoenix birthing litters of restaurants--May's 4 previously existing spots plus umpteen new concepts, Matt Carter going onto 4, Benie Kantak opening 5 simultaneously, etc.--in a less-than-healthy economy no less, it makes me wonder how more of their restaurants don't or won't go the way to Autostrada.

          3 Replies
          1. re: crsin

            With respect, that's like saying why does Whole Foods have to open more markets or Wahlgren's more drug stores? A down market is actually a great time to open a restaurant if you have the chops to do it. Rents are much lower, deals are much better with most devlopers paying dearly one way or another for a name chef, and there is no shortage of experienced, highly qualified employees. All of that changes the economics significantly and actually reduces the risk. From what I saw, the closure of Sol and Autostrada were not execution related but location/economy related. The market tier that Sol competed in is down 20-25% revenue nationally and that is huge in the restaurant business where margins are tight to begin with. Morton's just closed three of their restaurants and the Oceanarium (is that the right name? It's a high end seafood place with 16 branches and one planned for Phoenix) just closed four restaurants. Drop this on top of DC Ranch's location and you have a problem. Just looking at the empty commercial space there tells you that.

            1. re: Poerz

              Poerz, are you thinking of Oceanair? They closed several restaurants. The flagship and original is in Minneapolis.

              1. re: firecracker

                Yes, thankyou. Momentary brain cramp.

          2. Recently went for the first time (for the Yelp Eats promotion). I found the food and service well executed.

            The place was very packed, so I am surprised they would close (but sounds like it was circumstances other than poor business). I thought the location wasn't great (upstairs, out of the way), so probably best to move somewhere better (although, I personally don't think the Ice Den location is particularly great either).

            I am confident Aaron May will show up elsewhere, as he is clearly involved in the Phoenix food scene. I am sure his next incarnation will be great - I expect starting new concepts is invigorating for a talented chef.