– Despite numerous protestations that it wouldn’t happen, the east-side Sabor Latin Bar & Grille has closed.
When first contacted late last year about whether the restaurant was closing, owner Melad Stephan had a good laugh over how rumors get started.
Then last month, Sabor district executive chef Jason-Paul Febres said those rumors would disappear for good with some changes that were coming to the restaurant.
But Saturday was its last day in business.
“I just got fed up with it, not having the sales,” Stephan says. “It’s cheaper right now for me to shut it.”
He has five years left on his lease.
“I need to visit with my partners about it to see what we might want to do.”
Selling is an option.
“I’m willing to entertain an offer,” Stephan says. “I’m willing to walk away.”
He’s also considering bringing a franchise to the space.
The fondue restaurant the Melting Pot is his most likely choice.
“I have to really study it very well,” Stephan says. “I’m going back and forth on that one.”
He’s already spoken to executives at the chain.
Regardless of what he does with the space, Stephan says the business will remain upscale.
He’s not sure why Sabor didn’t do better in the space.
“We’ve been so successful downtown.”
Downtown Sabor sales slipped some because of the east-side restaurant, though not dramatically, Stephan says.
“I don’t think there’s enough support for two Sabors.”
Stephan says he was disappointed with the east-side Sabor’s weekday lunch sales, although weekend sales “were awesome.”
Stephan has experience with starting over with a new concept in space where a previous restaurant didn’t work.
He opened Bellini’s in Old Town Square where the failed Zyng Noodlery once was. Bellini’s did OK, but not well enough to keep the concept.
That’s when Stephan opened his first Sabor.
He opened the Waterfront Sabor in November 2008.
Stephan says he’ll make a decision about what to do next probably within two or three months. In the meantime, Febres will return to the Sabor in Old Town.