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Closing Time for C. Tsar's

Another Newton restaurant falls victim to the shaky economy and the changing face of diners.

After just under a year in business, C. Tsar’s in Newtonville has closed its doors for good.

The Mediterranean bistro , Ariadne, to reflect the changing tastes of diners hungry for more regular, accessible fare.

Unfortunately, this shift was not enough to combat the unstable economy and the move away from dining out as a form of entertainment.

“When we changed the concept to the more neighborhood friendly C. Tsar's, we made every effort to be as inexpensive as we possibly could in a space that expensive to operate, but the neighborhood did not respond the way we hoped they would,” stated Malloy in an email sent September 27.

Ariadne opened in 2002 and was a very successful restaurant in a spot that had previously seen four failed ventures in the space of ten years, according to Malloy.  In September of 2010, recognizing the loss of expensed business dinners and wanting to court a neighborhood clientele, Tsardounis and Malloy changed their concept and rebranded as C. Tsar’s.

But high rent and the staggering utility bills for a restaurant of that size were simply too much for them. In late August, C. Tsar’s shuttered its doors and sold off its equipment and furnishings to the public. Customers who walked by and those who had Groupons for the restaurant were left wondering what had happened.

According to Malloy’s email, the Groupon deal was also a factor in their having to close up shop.

“We did Groupon in December 2009 and at first we thought it was great. We were super busy and people loved it,” she states. “We decided to give Groupon another try over the summer. We figured this time people would have to spend something on top of the Groupon, but much to my amazement (and dismay) 70 percent of the Groupon checks were for less than $40.”

Groupon has already alerted customers who have not yet utilized their Groupons that their money will be refunded.

Malloy and Tsardounis are “heartbroken,” but she has maintained as positive an attitude as can be expected under such difficult circumstances.

“Maybe it will be like the line in the Barbra Streisand song ‘What’s too painful to remember we simply choose to forget,’” she writes.  “Maybe someday I’ll remember all the good times and all the heart break and disappointment will fade away. When it all seems too much I just think about my kids and how wonderful they are. I know as long as they are healthy and safe that’s all that really matters.”

James Redmond October 17, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Sorry to see C. Tsar's go. That said, blaming Groupon (or any other external influence) for their business failure seems unfair. The restaurant started its descent from success as Ariadne, long before their Groupon venture, and continued on the same path after its name-and-menu change. So perhaps the issues afflicting Ariadne were NOT the menu or the prices after all! During the same time period, Lumiere and 51 Lincoln, both upscale Newton eateries, have survived and thrived despite the economy. Clearly, problems beyond just the economy contributed to this restaurant's demise. It's unfair to lay the blame with Groupon - in fact, Groupon may have kept C. Tsar's open longer than it could have made it without them.
Wendy Schapiro October 17, 2011 at 06:32 PM
No one is *blaming* Groupon, James. What Ms. Malloy said was that after a very successful initial Groupon endeavor, their second attempt did not yield the desired results since their take was very insignificant. This is a *fact* ("70 percent of the Groupon checks were for less than $40"), not an opinion. As to whether the Groupon deal kept the open longer, that is possible but with no evidence to support either view it would be difficult to say so in hindsight. Having written about both Lumiere and 51 Lincoln as well, and having spoken to the owners/chefs at all three restaurants, I can tell you from my own experience and viewpoint that they have a very different clientele from C. Tsar's target audience. Those restaurants are supported, at least in part, by those still able to seek out "destination dining," and the national reputations of their chefs compared to the relative anonymity of Christos Tsardounis (even outside of Newton itself) has played a positive factor in their success versus C. Tsar's lack thereof. Still working on that story about Groupon and other discount coupon sites, but my evidence to date supports Malloy's contention that buying in to Groupon, etc. are not always in the best interest of a restaurant. I'll keep you posted :)
James Redmond October 18, 2011 at 02:13 PM
From your article: "According to Malloy’s email, the Groupon deal was also a factor in their having to close up shop." Sounded like blame to me.
Wendy Schapiro October 19, 2011 at 01:23 AM
Guess we'll have to agree to disagree. :)
Melanie Graham June 21, 2012 at 07:11 PM
JDILLA -- I hate deleting comments, but due to the fact that you used inappropriate language (swearing), we had to get rid of it from the site (http://newton.patch.com/terms) We encourage you to resubmit your comment, if you can, with cleaner language. Thank you!

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