Commentary: We are losing our legacy restaurants

With the closing of Sage Restaurant in January, and the selling of the Villa Nova in February, and the planned closing of the Ritz at the end of the year, I felt that as the owner of a 51-year-old restaurant it was time to speak up and let people know what is needed if they want to keep some of these oldies but goodies around for their kids.

Andy Crean, former owner of the Villa Nova, said in the Daily Pilot article ("Villa Nova bids arrivederci to Newport," March 5) that although everyone loved the Villa Nova, some have not been there in 15 years, and I can't say I don't know the exact feeling.

Every day, for 14 years, someone stops me and tells me how much they love my restaurant and what memories they have had there, but the minute I ask when the last time they had been, the answer is quite frequently 10 years ago or more!

In order for the heritage of a community to remain intact, it requires the cooperation and patronage of its members, whether it be a movie theater, playhouse, museum, or, in this case, restaurants.

If the community stops showing up, the establishment folds. Nothing gets closed down for making money!

We have all watched as Bandera, Gulfstream, Xaviars, Maestro's, A Restaurant and all the reality show restaurants and fancy pizza parlors have flooded our two cities. Even huge corporations like Lawry's and Outback Corp, which own Fleming's, Roy's and True Foods, have spread their big-money backing.

We have all watched Coco's, Denny's, Marie Callender's and IHOP fold in a short period of time. These are places that are near and dear to all our hearts, and we've watched as the new school replaces and eliminates the old school.

In most cities in America, there is a mixture of heritage that reflects a time gone by with the new-age establishments. This is reflected on any Main Street in this country.

In Newport and Costa Mesa, we are allowing money and power to destroy and replace our heritage by the greed-driven desire to rebuild and replace everything. Our children will grow up and come back to a place they do not know!

Mr. Crean made a comment in the article about the sale of Villa Nova citing Bob Dylan's song, "The Times They are A-Changin'", and his comment was, "If you can't change with the times, then get out of the way."

My response is that certain things that mean something to a community don't need to change, if people like them just the way they are. But if the community does not support these establishments today, they may not be here tomorrow.

MIKE PALITZ owns La Cave restaurant in Costa Mesa.

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