Another restaurant is folding this week, but they are not falling victim to low profits.
No, according to Sundance Cafe owner Sharon Gentilini, business was humming along just fine at her little Campbell Avenue lunch joint.
“We were doing excellent business here,” she said. “We did a kick-butt lunch.”
For more than a year, Sharon and her husband, Robert Gentilini, sold club sandwiches, soups and salads to the starving downtown masses. And those masses, bored with Zak’s Cafe and still mourning Angler’s departure from the West side of downtown, kept coming back.
But according to Sharon Gentilini, the Virginia Department of Health ordered the restaurant to make improvements that she was not willing to pay for herself. And Total Action Against Poverty, the owner of the building, also did not want to fund the changes, according to Dick Robers, who handles leasing for TAP.
“To me, that’s a business decision, not a leasing decision,” Robers said.
According to Sundance’s last restaurant inspection report, which can be found online, Sundance was not refrigerating some food items at a cold enough temperature.
Karen Saul, Environmental Health Supervisor for the Alleghany-Roanoke Health District of the Virginia Department of Health, said a 2002 code change lowered the required food storage temperature from 45 degrees to 41 degrees. Some restaurants’ refrigeration units cannot cool that low and need to be replaced, she said, but the health department has given those restaurants five years to make the change.
Gentilini declined to get into specifics about the required changes at Sundance, saying it was too late to make a difference now anyway. She does not yet know if they will re-open the restaurant in a different location.
“We have looked at a couple of places that are way more than we can afford,” she said.
If you liked the Sundance Cafe, stop by there tomorrow for one last club sandwich and wish the Gentilini’s well.
“I’m heartbroken,” Sharon Gentilini said. “I loved what we did here and I think our customers did, too.”