Rumors of restaurant closures have been flying lately, especially downtown. There has been buzz that both Merenda and Deep are for sale and that Merenda will be closing by the end of the month. After many e-mails, questions at parties and grand speculation on the part of long time Bendites, I went to the only one that would know first hand: Owner and Executive Chef Jody Denton.
"There is no truth to these rumors-we are fine. We have made some adjustments, streamlining to make sure we get through this, but they (Merenda and Deep) are not for sale, nor are they closing." Denton went on to say that as of December 2007 they have felt the crunch as business has gone down about 25 percent. Not believing in the quick turnaround some economists are predicting, Denton is strategizing as to how to withstand the high food costs and the loss of business without letting it affect his restaurants' quality.
The rumors of 38 Degrees closing are true; the doors shut for good last month and the fate of the Northwest Crossing space is unknown at this point. Across the street, La Rosa's new spot is still under construction, and the owners are hoping for a September opening.
Also on the positive front, Pizano's Pizza, known as the best pizza in Prineville, has a new location next to Riley's Market in Northwest Crossing and has been open for five weeks. It serves take-out pies and can accommodate 55 seated diners; the owners are hoping to add delivery in the Bend area soon.
South of downtown, there is a new chef at Fireside Red. Jeremy Baumgartner has moved on and sous chef Ryan Barnett has stepped in to fill the role of chef. Pastini Pastaria is putting the finishing touches on the interior with a promise to open in late August in the Old Mill area. Snuggled up against Café Yumm!, Flatbread Community Oven and Allyson's Kitchen, Pastini is helping solidify the Old Mill's reputation as the casual food hub of the area.
Elsewhere, Tony's Deli has been open for about five weeks offering traditional Italian American deli fare in the Westside Safeway shopping area. Jackson's Corner (the old Delaware Market) is consistently busy in the four weeks since opening. In Sisters, the much-awaited Three Creeks Brewery has opened its doors with house brews such as Knotty Blonde, Stonefly Rye and 8 Second IBA, a fortified IPA. The best breakfast in Redmond is no longer as The Spot has closed its doors and the owner Scott Byers could not be reached for comment. - Laurie J. Rice