Staffers at Barrio's Bellevue location today learned the 2-year-old restaurant has closed so its owners can transform the venue into an event and catering space.
"It was a really tough decision," owner Larry Kurofsky of Heavy Restaurant Group, which operates four locations of Purple Café & Wine Bar, Lot No. 3, and Barrio in Capitol Hill, which Kurofsky confirms is continuing to do well.
"I've never had to close a restaurant before," Kurofsky says. "I think we're going to have guests who are disappointed and maybe surprised."
With six restaurants in its portfolio, Heavy Restaurant Group was able to reassign 75 percent of its Barrio Bellevue staffers. Kurofsky hopes attrition will open spots for the remaining workers. "With 400 employees total, there's always a little bit of turnover," he says.
Kurofsky speculates the restaurant's location might have contributed to its failure. He describes the location as the "least exposed" of three adjoining restaurants. "It's a cavernous space," Kurofsky says, adding the interior should be perfect for events.
According to Kurofsky, the new venue will allow the company to host groups it previously had to turn away for lack of space. The location, which will serve as headquarters for Heavy's catering business, is capable of accommodating up to 200 people.
The restaurant group will also use the venue for internal events, such as wine dinners and cooking classes.
"Looking long-term, it's a better use of the space," Kurofsky says.