By Sue Botos
Shoppers hoping for a quick bite of Italian food at Beachcliff Market Square right before Christmas were out of luck.
They were greeted with a “closed” sign and directions for redeeming Groupon and other vouchers on the door of Gusti Italian Grill, which locked its doors after a run of less than four months.
“We were surprised and disappointed that they closed,” commented Beachcliff marketing manager Bill Brink, adding that he was not at liberty to give further details about the Dec. 15 closing. The restaurant had opened on Sept. 11.
Gusti owner Patrick Burns, who was not available for comment, previously described his restaurant as “fast casual,” similar in concept to the Mexican eatery Chipotle, during a July West Life interview. Instead of being seated at tables and waited on by servers, customers watched while workers assembled personalized dishes made from a variety of Italian ingredients.
(A similar restaurant, Piada, is slated for the remodeled Rockport Shopping Plaza this year. Last week workers fenced off an area in the parking lot of the former strip mall, creating the footprint for Piada and three other businesses.)
A resident of Avon, Burns spent 37 years on the corporate side of the restaurant business, working for several chains. He commented in July that he wanted to finally do something on his own, and that he hoped to open five more eateries in the area.
Brink said that patron reaction to Gusti was generally positive; however, West Life received an e-mail from a customer stating that he had purchased a wrap that was “so-so” and that the location was not good for foot traffic.
The upside of the situation, according to Brink, was that a restaurant filled with nearly new equipment was left waiting for a buyer. “This will be great for someone who wants to start a restaurant and doesn’t have a lot of money for equipment,” he commented.
Brink said that he has had several inquiries about the restaurant, and that he would be making an announcement in the near future.
Gusti is reported to have continued selling Groupon discount certificates as well as Mimi Deals, even though the ownership was anticipating closing. Brink said that anyone with these vouchers should contact www.Groupon.com or www.mimideals.com for reimbursement. Anyone with gift cards issued through credit card companies should contact the appropriate organization.