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Friday, November 16, 2018

Longtime Area Restaurant Amano Closes is Doors

Amano Bistro courtesy photo

Amano Bistro courtesy photo

With apologies to Joni Mitchell, somewhere in the background music of the recent closing of Amano Bistro to make way for a school’s parking lot, some familiar lyrics come to mind.

But at second glance, the more appropriate lyrics are more likely, “Don’t cry for me Argentina.”

Sure, the owners of the restaurant, Eric and Kathy Bower are saddened and will miss their family of customers, but in reality, soon, maybe at this very moment, they will be “laying their heads in the sand of Puerto Vallarta.”

The couple knew it would be easy enough to lose their lease if the property on which it sat sold, but it had been on the market forever.

“We always knew it could happen, but didn’t think it would. Then along came the perfect storm,” Eric said.

“The landlord did call me on the phone and told me the school was serious about buying the property,” he said. “That put us into limbo.”

Then a few days before Christmas, the sale closed and Eric and Kathy were asked to vacate.

“We thought ‘it’s over,” he said. “There were a lot of tears.”

The couple considered opening again somewhere else, but it did not take long to decide against it. Many loyal customers offered to fund the new restaurant, but they declined.

“We didn’t want to spend $40 grand, move the restaurant, work for a year to get the money back,” he said.

Since they are of retirement age, they decided to take a different path.

“In two weeks we will have our heads in the sand at Puerto Vallarta,” he said with a chuckle.

Eric and Kathy opened the South Phoenix restaurant in 2004 and ran it for 11 years. It became a perfect gathering place in the community where a person could expect wonderful food paired with excellent wine. He said that he and Kathy were the “perfect paring,” with she in the kitchen and he out front. Yet since the word of their closing got out, he said he has turned into a grief counselor, as well.

On January 16, Amano Bistro served its last meal, a sad day for many of its customers.

Dennis Ryan, hates to see the restaurant go.

“I am a customer. I live down the street and have been going there for over a decade. They have been a valuable part of the community, great people that made us feel like family,” he said, adding that the Italian restaurant was an island onto itself and served excellent food.

“To the members of the South Mountain community, Amano Bistro has been much more than a restaurant and the Bower family have provided more than just good food to an area lacking in amenities,” Ryan said. “They have provided a place of welcome and warmth and have made everyone feel like part of their family.”

Paideia Academy is a growing charter school on South 15th Street near Baseline road that provides education for preschool and elementary school children. The school’s mission is to provide a “whole child, whole family education.”

The school is growing quickly and needs the elbow room, said Vince Fuentes, vice president of finance and operation for the school.

“Not only is there going to be a parking lot, but we are putting the preschool over there. We are going to build a building,” he said, further explaining that the charter school was recently approved to teach 900 children. Next year it will have 675. It has also recently approved to offer classes for middle school students.






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