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Downtown restaurant Hart’s Mesa will not reopen, owner says

What is the lifespan of a restaurant?

Ever wonder why that restaurant on the corner always seems to change? It turns out the lifespan of most restaurants are pretty short.
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Ever wonder why that restaurant on the corner always seems to change? It turns out the lifespan of most restaurants are pretty short.

Hart’s Mesa, a restaurant that built its reputation in west Olympia before moving downtown, will not reopen after experiencing some expensive infrastructure problems that had closed the business.

That’s according to owner Joel Hart, who explained his decision in an email to The Olympian on Saturday.

“I have spent the better part of the past two weeks deciding what is best for my family,” Hart said in his email. “We have decided not to reopen Hart’s Mesa at 111 Columbia St. NW.”

The restaurant opened in April 2015 in west Olympia. Inspired by Hart’s experiences of traveling, playing music and working in Spain, Hart’s Mesa became known for its Latin-inspired meals.

He also later added corned beef hash, French toast and build-your-own scrambles, omelets and skillets alongside the huevos rancheros and migas.

The business moved downtown last year. The expense of moving was one of many challenges the business encountered, Hart said in his email.

“On several occasions we became optimistic that we were pulling ahead and had enough in savings to breathe easily,” Hart writes. “On each of those occasions we encountered a variety of disheartening, unprecedented and expensive challenges, e.g., electrical and plumbing problems, equipment failures, major weather events, staffing issues, etc.”

And then another round of electrical failures affected operations in May.

“The loss of revenue combined with the expensive repairs put us in danger of not being able to pay our staff,” Hart writes. “We therefore chose to honor all outstanding payroll and small vendor balances with what was left in the bank and suspend service until we could secure funds to properly address the infrastructure problems.”

Service, however, has now been permanently suspended.

“Hart’s Mesa has always been a source of great pride to me, and I am tremendously grateful to all our loyal guests and staff for your years of support. It is not without an abundance of humility and sadness that we have decided to close our doors.”

Sitting in the landmark waterside restaurant, The Oyster House, new owners Patrick Knutson (left) and Scott McKinney outline their reopening plans and the goal of preserving both the flavor and feel of the historic restaurant along Percival Landing.

Rolf has worked at The Olympian since August 2005. He covers breaking news, the city of Lacey and business for the paper. Rolf graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1990.
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