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Greenhouse Cafe closes doors

Manager says demand for $300K forced the decision

Posted: September 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.

The Greenhouse Café on Bouquet Canyon Road as it appeared in 2009.

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A Santa Clarita restaurant in business for 18 years was basically forced out of business over a demand for a $300,000 renovation, said its manager.

A longtime staple of Saugus, the Greenhouse Café first opened in Lancaster in 1989. Restaurants were later opened in Palmdale and Saugus.

In the ’90s Patricia Sandoval, Lorraine Roth and Andy Urban became the co-owners of the three Greenhouse Café restaurants — Urban managing the Saugus eatery.

Roth eventually retired and Urban moved back to Kansas, leaving the weight of all three restaurants on Sandoval’s shoulders, said Margie Quom, manager for the Saugus restaurant and resident of Canyon Country.

Sandoval put the Palmdale and Saugus restaurants up for sale, and the Palmdale location sold.

Having managed the local Greenhouse Café on Bouquet Canyon Road for the last 18 years, Quom began negotiating to buy the restaurant before the lease expired in late August, but she hit a major stumbling block.

The retail center’s owner insisted that the restaurant be renovated to the tune of $300,000.

“I offered to do it for $100,000 but the owner said ‘No’,” Quom said.

An independent source said the cosmetic changes could easily be made for $100,000.

“The center insisted on $300,000 in renovations or they would not renew the lease,” Quom said.

Quom feels the small hometown restaurant was pushed out of the center.

“It was doing well, it always did well,” she said. “You don’t stay in business for 18 years if you’re not doing well.”
The Greenhouse Café paid almost $10,000 per month in rent — and it was going to be raised to $11,500, she said. Every year the rent was raised, and the restaurant paid the increases.

Knowing the lease was expiring soon, Quom offered to go on a month-to-month lease to keep the restaurant going until a new owner could be found that could afford the costly renovations and higher rent, but the offer wasn’t accepted, she said.

“They didn’t reject it until the very last minute,” she said.

And so, after closing the restaurant, 17 employees of the Greenhouse Café held their farewell party at La Cocina Bar & Grill on Plum Canyon on Monday, Aug. 26.

“Everyone showed up,” Quom said.

Many of the staff members had been long-term employees of the family restaurant, she said.

“The cook was there for 18 years, another was there for 15 years, a brother and sister had been there for 10 years,” Quom said. “And over the years we hired a lot of kids from Golden Valley High School, where my husband is a teacher.”

The closure was hard on the employees in many ways.

With decisions coming down to the wire and the owner not wanting to alert anyone — the doors closed with very little notice, Quom said. There wasn’t an opportunity to say goodbye to friends and customers.

“It was devastating,” said Aimee Tyree, who worked at the restaurant for nearly 17 years. “We were never allowed to do that. We owed it to our customers to have a formal goodbye and thank them for all their loyalty. It felt awful.”

The restaurant’s customers and employees created a family atmosphere, Tyree said, saying she often runs into customers around town. Notifying people in under a week felt bad, she said.

“I have goose bumps talking about it — growing up with the customers. It felt that way at Greenhouse. It was one of a kind,” Tyree said.

One longtime customer has been looking into opening his own restaurant in Santa Clarita and, if successful, would like to hire the entire staff, Quom said.

“We appreciated our customers so much over the years. We had loyal customers, car groups, golfers, clubs, Saugus teachers, all just regular people from the community,” she said. “It’s devastating for us and the customers.”

 

 

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