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Questions Surround Closing of School Street Bistro

WESTFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — Locked doors and dark dining rooms were clear signs Wednesday that dinner won’t be served anytime soon at the School Street Bistro in Westfield. Mayor Dan Knapik says news of the closure surprised him.

“We had discussed in the early fall a new project involving the building that would retain the restaurant and provide some housing opportunities for market rate housing in the building and that was really exciting and John seemed to be real optimistic about that so when I got the news yesterday it really did come as a great shock,” he said.

The sign on the door says the closure is temporary. Sources say serious labor issues were plaguing the restaurant.

Old customers of School Street Bistro that were passing by the long time establishment Wednesday said that while it was good food over the years, the prices just got too high.

“This is a small town and they just don’t have the people,” Patricia Guerin said. “They can’t afford it. We’re seniors here 90% of us.. We don’t have the money to go to the restaurant, go buy a steak for 18 dollars, I’m sorry.”

“It’s a sad thing to see anybody lose their business and see the employees lose their jobs,” The Good Table owner Laurie Varelas said.

The Good Table is directly across the street from the Bistro. She said her local breakfast spot is surviving, but that constant downtown Westfield construction has made keeping customers tough at times.

“We have gas lines coming in and they’ll close the front of the street off and it’s a limited time but that excludes access to the front of my building,” Varelas said.

Knapik says despite construction, high-end restaurants everywhere have suffered from a poor economy. He says he is saddened that the School Street Bistro is the latest.

“It’s a marquee establishment and it’s always been part of the anchor for dining downtown,” he said.

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