Z Italiano, which billed itself as “Italianesque," closed its doors on Tuesday, six months to the day after its opening in November. The restaurant, the only family-owned, non-chain eatery in Southdale Center in Edina, was the short-lived dream of owner Zach Saueressig, who posted the news on the restaurant's website and Facebook page.
Saueressig says it had become obvious that the restaurant wasn’t going to be able to generate the foot traffic necessary to stay in business. "We were kind of tucked away inside the mall," he says. New marketing efforts and a foray into delivery service couldn't stem the tide.
Saueressig was a constant presence in the dining room, acting the consummate host, chatting with regulars and making friends with first-time customers. In a heartfelt goodbye message on Facebook, he thanked family members, business partners, vendors, customers, and employees who supported his goal of owning his own place.
In conversation, Saueressig keeps it classy, steering clear of explicitly blaming the economy or other outside factors.
Instead he says: “The restaurant business is alive and well in the Twin Cities. There’s just a better way of doing things that we haven’t accepted or tapped into as of yet.”
"I learned so much, including some hard lessons. I feel like this is part of the process for me as a professional," says Saueressig, who has spent many years in the hospitality industry, working for companies like Green Mill and Parasole. He says his one regret is that family members who invested in the venture lost money. He vows to "do something pretty remarkable to make up for all of this."
Saueressig says it's too early to predict what his next chapter will be. He believes the Z Italiano concept is a viable one that could be successful in a different location, and he's keeping other options open as well, including doing some restaurant consulting. "I love this business, and I love the relationships it builds," he says.
Ever the optimist, Saueressig posted a note on the restaurant’s website that sums up his philosophy. It says, “closed for business, open for possibilities.”