Blackbird Kitchen & Bar ‘closing permanently effective immediately’ [Update]

Blackbird Kitchen & Bar, the downtown seafood restaurant, popular happy-hour spot and occasional center for neighborhood activism, has closed.

The restaurant’s staff received  little notice. The owners sent  on an email late Monday afternoon saying that Blackbird, at 1015 9th St., would not open that Tuesday as it was "closing permanently effective immediately."

Blackbird opened in March of 2012 with a staff of 22. Chef Carina Lampkin was the spokeswoman and creative force, along with her culinary collaborator chef Kevin O’Connor.

The Sacramento Bee’s restaurant critic, Blair Anthony Robertson, reviewed Blackbird in September of 2012, writing that while the restaurant still had problems to work out, it had potential.

"Blackbird isn’t a great restaurant yet," he wrote. "There are still those chaotic, clunky moments in our recent memory to contend with. But with its sophisticated approach to food, potentially first-rate service and its quirky and creative leadership, Blackbird seems on track to be something truly special."

In a tweet posted Tuesday morning, Robertson took issue with the way Blackbird laid off its staff.

John Thatcher, a co-owner, explained the decision in an interview with Sac Press: 

Lampkin used her position at Blackbird to agitate for improvements on the west end of K Street, and helped organize an informal group of supporters called Turn Downtown Around. In March, TDA organized a successful fundraiser for the now complete mural project on Eighth and K streets.

Lampkin was not available for comment at time of publication. She, along with two other owners, was one of the signees on the email announcing the closure on Monday. It concluded with a thank you to staff.

"We wish to offer our sincere thanks for your efforts to make Blackbird viable under some challenging circumstances and will retain many fond memories of this effort, and of you. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors and are comforted in the knowledge that there is much success and happiness in your futures. Thank you again for everything."

Editor’s note: This is a breaking news article. We will update it as more information becomes available.  

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October 1, 2013 | 7:28 AM

A very sad day! My heart goes out to the newly unemployed staff.

October 1, 2013 | 8:40 AM

Ugh, this is tragic! I love that place!

October 1, 2013 | 8:44 AM

Sad times. I wonder where Carina will go next. Sacramento needs her energy – don’t leave!

October 1, 2013 | 8:52 AM

Great, more unemployed people in Sac. Maybe they should have paid more attention to the workings of the restaurant instead of a mural. My sympathy to the unemployed workers.

October 1, 2013 | 9:08 AM

That restaurant will be sorely missed. Great staff, great vision, great execution. It’s a shame.

October 1, 2013 | 9:33 AM

So sorry to hear this. For many months, Blackbird was a home away from home for me. I am grateful to Carina for her vision and energy. Daniel, Harlee, Michael, et al– hang in there!!!

October 1, 2013 | 10:39 AM

Every time we went there, we felt like we were moreso in NY than Sac. We were just there this past weekend, and had a wonderful meal. Soooo sad to read this!

October 1, 2013 | 11:21 AM

Wow. Did not expect this. Amazed they can’t keep it afloat for a while longer–seems like a popular place and would guess there would be an upswing in business over time in that part of downtown. Maybe things get worse before they get better?

I guess now they can use their Facebook page for political non-sequiturs as they did today.

(Edit: in case this confuses anyone, it seems they removed that post.)

October 1, 2013 | 9:36 AM

The “political non-sequitur” was posted by an employee and does not necessarily represent the views of Blackbird’s ownership, nor was it sanctioned thereby. Nonetheless, Blackbird’s ownership believes strongly in the First Amendment and has some familiarity with constitutional law, and therefore has no present intention of discouraging facebook users from using facebook the way facebook users are wont to use it. Signed, Blackbird’s ownership.

October 1, 2013 | 10:14 AM

Who knew that throwaway line pointing out a simple correlation between a change in Facebook topic and the closing of the restaurant would elicit such thorough and nonsensical legalese?

October 1, 2013 | 4:32 PM

this is as interesting as it is confusing.

what did I miss that was deleted from FB?

October 1, 2013 | 4:58 PM

They posted something about the republicans acting like spoiled children. Not that I’d really argue with that, but considering Blackbird seemed to have professionally-designed flyers or well-staged platings as most of their posts, it seemed odd.

October 1, 2013 | 11:26 AM

A little more info from BAR at SacBee: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/10/01/5784877/blackbird-closes-suddenly-and.html
Obviously there are a lot of pieces missing, but it’s hard to justify firing your staff with zero notice, especially after all the Bridge Dinner high fiving. Farm to Fork to F—ed Up. Heh, good one, Ryan.

October 1, 2013 | 11:47 AM

Shady that they emailed their employees.

October 1, 2013 | 12:03 PM

A sad day indeed. I had only recently visited blackbird and was looking forward to many returns. Best wishes to all involved.

October 1, 2013 | 12:52 PM

I’m sad not for the loss of yet another restaurant, but for the way in which this restaurant notified its employees and left them in a pickle. Too many of these restaurants and other businesses have been doing this recently. One day the business is open. The next day it’s closed. No warning to its employees or customers. Sure, the business will be missed by some, but what about those employees? Do we really not care about them? Do these businesses truly not know until the owners wake up one morning and decide to close the doors for good? I kind of doubt that.

October 1, 2013 | 1:46 PM

I just did an interview with the owner in which he addressed this point at length. I’ll publish it by tomorrow morning.

Article Author
October 1, 2013 | 2:38 PM

Pretty chickenshit way to tell your staff.

October 1, 2013 | 2:48 PM

I am one of the owners and I was part of that decision and I am not hiding and I am never “chickenshit”. Anyone can find me any time as did Jared, and I called Blair Robertson at the Bee specifically to point out that we aren’t hiding from anything or anyone. I’ll be at Blackbird in 15 minutes if you’d like to discuss this further.

October 1, 2013 | 3:48 PM

I don’t need to discuss it. Giving employees no notice whatsoever is the most offensive and childish thing you can do to them.

Have a little respect for the people who carry you and make/made you money.

October 1, 2013 | 3:54 PM

Lol. No one is obligated to come all the way down to your restaurant to “discuss this further” (did that sound like a veiled threat to anyone else btw?) to be able to point out that its ridiculous for you to give your employees no notice to find other jobs. Are you giving them severance? Probably not. Theres no crime in not getting the numbers to work out, but numbers being what they are (numbers. they are numbers) you should have known enough in advance to make this announcement in a non-chickenshit way.

October 1, 2013 | 4:01 PM

And if you’re not hiding, why the ambiguous username?

October 2, 2013 | 9:13 AM

George, Isn’t sudden closure kind of the norm for the restarant business? Unless the owners were retiring or something, I have never heard of 2 wks notice. And having a newly disgruntled staff around for a farewell dinner is kind of a recipe for crappy service, telling mgmt what you really think, and getting stoned in the stockroom.

But I do agree that email is low class, and the owner responding in the comments section here isn’t helping his cause.

It does beg the question, what is the “right” way to treat staff when closing a restaurant?

October 2, 2013 | 9:25 AM

Valid point, Cogmeyer, however I’ve seen it done several times.

Brew it Up had a final night for the staff. I actually found out about it reading this. Matis Indian Express announced it, too. In both cases, I found out on Sac Press and went in and got my favorite meal from the place one last time. Staff knew and had some time to plan.

The opposite was Hangar 17, which shut its doors and let its checks bounce.

Blackbird isn’t as bad as that (at least we don’t think so), but I stand by my original comment that telling the staff via email is cowardly and immature.

The “right” way to shut down a business probably involves telling staff when you can. This isn’t always possible to do with a lot of lead time, but show some respect for the people who have worked their asses off for you.

It even sounds like the Sac Press layoffs gave the employees more foresight than that, and it’s a business too.

October 3, 2013 | 5:14 PM

Grreat info George, I wasn’t aware of local restaurants that were able to pull off a Last Waltz.

And totally agree on the email aspect.

October 3, 2013 | 10:17 PM

Okay Georgie, since it’s almost the end of the week, THE EMPLOYEES ARE PAID, AS WILL BE EVERY VENDOR BY EARLY NEXT WEEK, I’ll bite. I have to tell you, big guy, I’ve been at 1015 9th Street most of the week, or within a 5 minute walk, facing everyone, including EVERY employee, answering every call, e-mail, and text, responding to requests for interviews knowing that no matter how fair they are (and they were), it’s awfully difficult to sound good to people who are determined to be miserable (sound familiar, Georgie boy?), and I’m still waiting for someone to call me a liar to my face. Hey, I’m old, not very big, and I promise I don’t keep hired muscle around. Come see me if you’re interested in climbing out from behind your mother’s skirt and learning something, big guy. I’ll be there again tomorrow. Still waiting for someone to call me a liar to my face… Virtually all employees very gracious and real. They’ll get jobs soon. Talk to any of them, Georgie? Didn’t think so. Going to an A’s game with some this weekend, that’s how much THEY hate me. Surprised Georgie boy? One employee, sadly not for me, took the check I wrote for her on mine and my wife’s personal account, then apparently scurried home to call me a liar from behind her device. She’ll probably grow up some day. Couldn’t look me in the eye and say “no thanks, you son of a bitch”. I’d have respected that. But like I say, I’m old school. Probably the first of (many of) such checks to clear, too. Waiting for someone to call me a liar to my face… Will it be you, Georgie? Got truly vicious text from someone, went on to his home turf to give him the chance, but of course he pussed out and made phony nice. Maybe you can be the big man, Georgie? Like my wife said, the people with the moral authority of a gnat are the first to climb atop the highest high horse of sanctimony and crow. Sound familiar, Georgie? Hey, don’t worry about me. I can forgive, and will. After all, I do want to be forgiven, and sure as hell know I’m not perfect. What about you, Georgie? Are you perfect? Sure getting a boat load of jollies casting stones at someone you never met, and who sure as hell IS NOT HIDING. You know my name. It’s John Thacker. 1015 9th Street… Do you know everything, Georgie boy? You know the story of our restaurant? Why don’t you tell me, or are you just the critic T. Roosevelt spoke of? You know that one? Know who T. Roosevelt was? Next time tell me in person. Maybe YOU can be the big man who is FIRST to call me a liar to my face. Same invite to any haters. Like I said, nothing to be fearful of. I’m old, not very big, and unarmed. I disdain violence. Just conducting an experiment here. Who can call me a liar to my face?

October 4, 2013 | 9:21 AM

Why would I want to escalate something like that?

The gist of my comments can be summed up in a few lines:

Firing employees via email was, at best, in very poor taste, especially after participating in Tower Bridge dinner.

An apology for the way you fired them would have been the mature thing to do – even an explanation. The “the last year was their severance” thing is total bunk.

Playing the victim is really pathetic. You talk about writing them checks with your own account? Ok… great. Not sure what I’m supposed to take from that. You paid your employees for the time they worked? Like is legally required?

October 4, 2013 | 9:45 AM

Also, John (to be clear, i learned your name only after the article with the audio attached to it – which pretty much confirms my thoughts that you don’t think you did anything the least bit wrong, you failed to apologize, and you have the gall to suggest that their last year was their severance – showing you lack the ethical responsibility all business owners should have when people’s livelihoods depend on them) also…you really seem to have some anger issues.

Just apologize for the way they were treated. Admit you made a mistake.

I’m not coming to your office to get in an argument. Everything that’s needed to be said has been said on here (by me and others), and on your Facebook page, which has a plethora of comments similar to my own.

Just chill out.

October 1, 2013 | 2:41 PM

Agree wholeheartedly with those concerned with the empoloyees. There is no way the owners found out they were out of business overnight, and thus, they owed their employees a proper 2 week notice so they can find work elsewhere. I’m bound to boycott any restaurant these creeps open in the future.

October 1, 2013 | 3:25 PM

I am one of the owners and find your remarks remarkably ill-informed. I really don’t care what you think but the prevailing attitude among many seems to be that we are the Rockefellers or something, and HAVEN’T been taking it in the shorts paying employees out of our own pockets for months trying to keep them employed when any rational business sense would have said pack up and leave. I can’t print money like Ben Bernanke/Obama, or Jerry Brown for that matter. Try taking on a costly, risky venture yourself some time. Or try getting the opinions of some of our real employees as to what “creeps” we are. Fact is, we put a TON of money into this venture not expecting to get rich, but hoping to be a part of something. It’s gone, that’s life. Like I said in a previous reply, any one can find me, any time. Jared and Blair did.

October 1, 2013 | 3:51 PM

You’re looking at like a typical “persecuted” and “benevolent” owner.

If I were your employee, i would see a great dinner on Tower Bridge and have no reason to believe my very livelihood is at stake. Then, BAM – a cop-out email that tells me I now have NO job, NO income and NO way to pay my bills.

And the owners didn’t even have the courage to tell me to my face.

Did you tell your employees things were tight? Or did you hide it and spring it on them with an email.

Then you have the audacity to go online and play the victim.

October 2, 2013 | 6:31 PM

I completely agree with jhar. The employees deserved better. The childish idea that this was even a remote surprise to the owners is ignorant and brain dead. If they, in reality, had been “taking it in the shorts” the employees should have been notified in advance and with a personal touch. Instead THEY get it “in the shorts”. Claiming that you “can’t print money” is just deflection from the facts and essentially blaming everyone else for poor business sense. Try running a business with common sense, creeps.

October 1, 2013 | 2:51 PM

I have never personally owned a restaurant but worked in the biz for many years. I cannot imagine a scenario where the best route to close and announce it to your employees is via email! Absolutely adored the staff at Blackbird, amazing creative food and great atmosphere. The statistics definitely don’t support success and most restaurants do fail in the first year but still…Very dissapointed in the way management handled the closing, especially after being a supporter and frequent patron.

The sudden and immediate realization of being unemployed must have felt like a drive by shooting (less blood but just as shocking). If I had a restaurant I would hire every single one of the Blackbird employees. Best of luck to you all and if I run into you in town…I will buy you a drink!

October 1, 2013 | 3:12 PM

I have been an employee in two businesses that failed. One I was there for a couple extra weeks to close up the business. I was the employee that locked the door to keep “Call 3″ from doing an interview inside the business. I also had the luxury of handing over the last set of keys to the bankruptcy attorney.

Another, a restaurant where I was a bartender and server, At this job, I showed up to find a bankruptcy notice taped to the locked, front door. I am still waiting for my last pay from that job, its been over 25 years.

October 1, 2013 | 3:49 PM

The owners of Blackbird are exceptional people- I can personally attest to that after having worked closely with them from the beginning.

I am upset for the employees, but no, I do not put the blame on the owners of Blackbird. I know first-hand how much work and money went in to the restaurant… They are good and generous people who just wanted to help make downtown a better place.

I can agree with the sentiment that the way in which the closing was handled (for the employees) was sudden and probably not the best executed plan (and I believe the owners know this)- but I have been in that situation myself, way too many times, to judge these guys.

They have been, and are like family to so many people. I know that the owners must feel bad too- but Blackbird was a for-profit business, not a charity. To people saying that the owners do not care about the employees are unfortunately misinformed.

Anyway- that is my two cents. I truly wish everyone affected by this the best of luck.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

October 1, 2013 | 4:10 PM

Actions speak louder than words.

Laying off employees with an email is a pretty strong action showing they don’t care.

A classy move would have been to stay open one more night and have it be a thank-you for the staff. Tell the patrons that all money is going to the staff – something to give them a break and a chance to make a little more money that last night.

Nothing about the way this was handled says they care about the employees.

October 1, 2013 | 4:35 PM

I’m not going to pile on, but just wonder–why don’t places going out of business go out with a big farewell? It would definitely leave a better taste in the mouths of the people who would support your next business, plus there’s gotta be a stash of booze, a bunch of half empty kegs, and maybe a few oysters around. I know reality is more complicated than that, but even economics aside, it seems like it would be worth a big effort to save face. (How many Sacramentans stopped buying Pyramid because of their shady retreat from downtown?)

October 1, 2013 | 4:05 PM

Not to wear out this record, but very very sad to hear about this. My wife and I enjoyed dining there/ bringing out of town guests for dinner.

To the owners (particularly the one that is posting on this thread): I for one never thought you were a ‘Rockefeller’ type…….if so, Blackbird might have been posted in one of our fine South Placer suburbs or in Midtown/ East Sac. I don’t mean to generalize when speaking, but myself and my friends who enjoy patronizing local establishments understand that a lot of you folks are ‘on the edge’ at times financially and pour your blood, sweat, and tears into these things. Taking the comments on this thread about it being shady to lay off your employees via emails personally is a normal human reaction but………..

- Simply explaining the fact that you’re not filthy rich and have been paying your staff out of pocket to keep them employed, etc etc would have sufficed without making slight of hand personal swipes/ political comments about the national commander in chief and the head of the Fed……….

- Laying your staff off via email IS shady; there’s no good way to say it.

I wish you success in whatever your next venture may be………..

October 1, 2013 | 5:10 PM

To the owners of Blackbird- what now happens to the money that you owe your vendors and their families/farms who have fronted you product?

October 1, 2013 | 8:54 PM

My god the righteousness on this post! Restaurants let people go on the daily for all sorts of reasons. These people got an email because the business was folding. Sucks, but that’s life. There is no tenure in the restaurant business and it’s not a state job either. Welcome to how many people live in order to serve you food.

October 2, 2013 | 9:28 AM

Righteousness?

I suppose that if by that you mean I am offended by the total lack of caring in the way it was done, then I’m guilty.

Ownership is SPINELESS if they fire their whole staff via email. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, or maybe it’s a cultural difference, but I think that the moment you tell probably 40 people that they no longer have the means to live…well you should at least look them in the eye and give them some explanation for why their lives are turned upside down.

And yes, I worked in restaurants. I know how the industry functions. That makes this all the more disgusting. Because I know it can be done better and I have seen it done better. And doing better is pretty damn easy.

October 1, 2013 | 9:02 PM

Going to just introduce myself as trumpetguy here, and elaborate a bit along what it’s like in business, and in Sacramento as a business in general. I was asked by Carina to play some music in front of her newly opened place, and it was wonderful, her brother showed up on one occassion to play along side, a couple of other musicians were also there, simply playing on the street to help liven things up. She treated us to some excellent food, the likes of which perfect for the area to be serving up, and the model was very much the same as the other, rather hugely expensive places. That was smart target marketing. The mistake here, in almost all cases, a business works best with one owner, and She should have been it, and the only final decision maker. She had vision, a quality fare, and it was in place to produce income, yet one small aspect…, it’s in Sacramento, where it doesn’t have a real core to it’s business sector. The skyscrapers are impressive, but nothing is alive underneath, what little there is is propped up by huge money, and it’s a dying City, has been a slow death, but the economy going south wasn’t even noticable in Sac town, because it’s always been south…. My solution, like hers, to bring in art, culture, get things moving forward and if it means paining on the wall, to in my case, playing on the streets, then so be it. The scene, branding, etc. at her place, very much compliments Sacramento. The problem also is, the rent, utilities, fees, etc. make it cost prohibitive to justify, unless you have some really personal reason to set up shop there, Sacramento is NOT a place to do it!

Combine this all with partners that obviously were struggling of opinion, and it’s that much more difficult to maintain. I’m happy to have frequented it, happy to be part of the entertainment be it for a limited short time, and I can’t see any reason for the Black Bird Catering company to not be born from the ashes… Carina, you game for this? This is also severely more lucrative then a retail style restaurant, and it will be putting some if not all or having to hire, staff on payroll.

Further background upon myself here, My business is Espresso Outfitters, please read through it if you want to get a feel for the validity behind my analysis and advice in the process. I think it was an amusing time back then, to soak in so much of the information from so many local business, where they unknowingly gave me clear market potential data, demographic details, and a myriad of other things, simply through observing and limited interaction with. Most, if they knew who I was in their world, would have taken a completely different take upon what they would say, and deal with me along that level.

Bottom line here, there is a reason I don’t recommend investors to Sacramento, actually except for rare occasions, most of northern California.

October 1, 2013 | 9:40 PM

You play a harmonica in front of a restaurant that closed and have an MBA from Harvard to guide your investors away from Northern California in general and Sacramento in particular. Un F….ing believable that you can even type this crap out!

October 2, 2013 | 9:19 AM

Actually, why would we automatically discount the apparently sincere opinion of someone who has invested in a Sacramento business, and sincerely appears to be interested in a lively downtown?

He is not the first to say that doing business in Sacramento and in California can really suck, you know.

October 1, 2013 | 11:10 PM

Having worked in restaurants for many years, I understand how tough it is for owners to break even. Contrary to popular belief, it’s very hard to turn a profit. It takes many years and even then it isn’t much. That being said, I have been laid off when a business was folding but I’ve never ever received an email notifying me. Whomever thinks this is normal business practice in the restaurant industry is sorely mistaken. Yes, restaurants fold all the time- its a tough world to survive in. The owner posting on here contradicted himself- on the one hand they emailed people bevause it was sudden and abrupt, but his post clearly states this was months of struggle. There’s always an exit strategy. They failed to tell their employees. And now they’re struggling to defend that decision. The owner posting never mentioned the reason for an email explanation either…

October 2, 2013 | 11:54 AM

Worked in food service for over 20 years from casual to fine dining and I can tell you it gets tougher and tougher to create a viable food estab with each revolution of this earth. Thanks to all from Blackbird for some mighty fine diners. You will be missed.

October 2, 2013 | 11:54 AM

Losing a business sucks, letting employees go when you have failed at a business has a complex set of emotions with it. They probably never intended to hurt anyone, but obviously a lot of us feel that is was unprofessional to deliver the news via email.

Someone wrote they have an exit strategy…it appears they did not. I wouldn’t have sent an email especially if, as they claim, they have a good relationship with the employees such that an email would be acceptable. I would have called the employees into the closed restaurant and delivered the news face to face, perhaps as a group/team so as to answer any of their questions and allow them the opportunity to have their good byes and perhaps commiserate together.

October 2, 2013 | 2:54 PM

It’s unfortunate. My wife and I enjoyed Blackbird. Definitely the best seafood in town.

In the end, I think of it like a breakup. It shouldn’t be done over an email, but ultimately, there’s no good way to do it. They were a great part of our community, regularly advocating for and participating in efforts to promote the community. They gave us good food and tried to push the envelope while investing in a neighborhood that needs it. I appreciate that.

October 2, 2013 | 3:29 PM

The dirty secret about the oft quote fact “small business create the most jobs” is they also destroy the most aswell.

October 2, 2013 | 3:31 PM

I’ve been at the scene of hundreds of closures in retail and restaurants. I’m the liquidator. I can’t tell you how many times the employees discovered they were out of a job by showing up and finding us there instead of their employer. It’s an unfair and less than classy program, but it is quite the norm. I was always told that the owners/managers do this to avoid unpleasant scenes, sudden theft by employees who feel they are owed something, and even sudden workers comp injuries the day they are fired. Can’t tell you how many times I was right in the firing line too.
I don’t know this restaurant, or anyone associated with it, but it’s not hard to see why so many questions here. The Farm to fork thing kind of gave the impression that all was ok, so, people are stunned on that basis. From my point of view, it’s just business as usual in retail, but it seems like there was an underlying commitment to community that people seem to believe was violated. Goes beyond business sometimes, if the employer leads that way.
Oh well. Sorry to hear of another independent business getting shuttered. I am losing my customer base that way.
So; Need a liquidator? :)

October 2, 2013 | 3:45 PM

I am stuck with a $100 gift certificate to Blackbird that I was planning to use over the holidays!

October 2, 2013 | 3:54 PM

Sorry to hear about that. I got stuck with something similar when another business closed.

ric
Avatar of ric
October 2, 2013 | 4:03 PM

wow – they were great (while a little expensive, their happy hour was a treat … and all the staff top notch) …. interesting that city councilman Hansen hasn’t chimed in … oh forgot, he’s working on the stadium

October 4, 2013 | 11:39 AM

He had a brief post on his Facebook page just as this story was breaking, so there weren’t further tidbits of what actually happened.

October 2, 2013 | 4:57 PM

So very sad to see an excellent business close it’s doors. Blackbird was a great place to eat, hang out, socialize and eat very healthy food – much of the menu was organic, plant based meals from local sustainable ranches and farms run by indie family farmers. Worst of all is to see a working class business owner forced OUT of business while a huge corporate entity enmeshed with the 1% – namely Region Builders who are clearly a hegemonic, corporate cartel throw their weight around downtown. Region Builders is a big groupie for Corporate Welfare and cheerleader for Slave Mart/Wal Mart.

Money doesn’t talk – it swears.

I believe in the Golden Rule – “He Who Has The Gold Rules”.

If there was representational govt in Sacramento and if the Mayor and City Council actually CARED about small businesses – Blackbird would have never closed. I’m sure the Mayor and City Council are relieved to see it close – since this business was a watchdog for downtown and pressured the 1% to actually DO something other than hand out Corporate Welfare to their cronies and blather about “sustainability” while doing very little to support sustainable businesses.

October 4, 2013 | 11:41 AM

Hmmm…sound like you’re thinking that if some public funds were thrown their way to have the little guy compete with the big corporate players then all would be OK.

October 2, 2013 | 5:28 PM

O.K. I’ve read enough and heard enough. It’s a restaurant. There are lots more…

October 2, 2013 | 6:34 PM

I totally agree. Blackbird has now become a mocking bird. And “gbgiani59″ will be easily forgotten simply because of the unethical tactics both before and after they closed. Good ridden.

October 2, 2013 | 9:40 PM

I wanted to keep out of this . . . not normally my thing to chime in on these type of threads . . . but it needs to be said. I am not going to use an alias, I am local restaurant owner and my name is Chris Jarosz. I have known Carina for quite sometime now and felt connected from the day we met. These guys spent thousands . . . 100′s of thousands more than they planned to . . . just to get the place open. They were more than just passionate about what they did, it wasn’t a job for Carina, it was her lifestyle and identity. Every time I walked through the door I was impressed, and frankly jealous, of the amazing things they did . . . great service, presentation, and style . . . and a very affordable menu . They made me want to be better at what I do. They truly had something special. If you don’t know, which apparently many of you DON’T, this is a ridicuously hard business. Most restaurants have a 5-7% margin, and it is very difficult to be profitable. I have had more failures than I have had successes, myself. I have not spoken with her, but I know there are a lot of variables that can cause a restaurant to close suddenly. Most all of them have to do with running out of money. Not just running out, but putting yourself so freaking far in debt trying to get out, that in most cases it will take a good portion of your life to recover from it. You work 7 days a week, open to close , you neglect your kids, and family, you extend all your your credit, you rob Peter to pay Paul. You get behind on your rent, taxes (BOE, FTB, IRS, EDD, etc), your insurances, your utilities , and all your vendor bills. At some point they stop working with you and you can’t source product to put on your table. Your equipment breaks and you can’t afford to replace it . . . and then you can’t make payroll. Oh and wait . . . while you dealing with all this . . . service, product, and presentation, can be less consistent, and some uneducated idiots get on yelp and talk about how terrible you are, and your business falls off even more. Pretty defeating, when you are doing this all because it’s what you love.

Right? Oh, and when you get to the point that you can’t afford to open the door . . . you have to find a way to call an employee meeting and then legally have to pay your staff to come in to tell them you just can’t do it anymore. I think that you will find that most everyone that was there to the end would say, it was a great ride, they loved being part of something really special . . . and they will walk away better because of it. They were and still are a family . . . WHATEVER REASON THEY HAD FOR CLOSING, IT WAS WHAT WAS BEST FOR THEM, so be the better person and please focus your energy on something that is your business. Hopefully, in the future you will think about the damage people can do to small businesses, and the people behind them, when they don’t understand how they operate.

I applaud Carina and everyone at Blackbird, and wish them the best in whatever they do, and wherever they go. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. You will be sorely missed!!

October 3, 2013 | 9:01 AM

Chris,

I appreciate you chiming in with your real name and being thoughtful and forthright in your comments. I DO know that restaurants run on a slim margin. I never said anything bad about the decision to close – that sadly happens a lot, especially with as much competition as there is around here.

I honestly hadn’t thought about the need to legally pay the staff to tell them you can’t do it anymore. On first glance, that has merit as a reason to send the email. I would argue that if it is about to get to that point, it’s the ethical thing to do to let the employees know in advance (even if by just a day).

But the way the owner responded here and in the audio on the other story…that leaves no room for doubt about how he feels. His comments are full of entitlement, playing the victim and a complete lack of understanding for the employees. He actually said, “The last year has been a severance.”

I know he isn’t Carina, and I like to think she would have handled it better. But the reality is, a mea culpa would have been nice. Even a, “We really didn’t want to let the employees know that way because of _______, and it was a mistake to do that. We appreciate their hard work for us.”

But he didn’t. And the first real reason I have seen for not sending a pansy email telling staff it’s closed came not from him, but from you.

On that note, I think I need to get out to Broderick!

October 3, 2013 | 11:40 AM

Chris- You would have to live under a rock or another planet to not know that restaurants are notoriously tough to succeed in. I understand the point you are making and it is undoubtedly true. The reaction from most here is sadness from the closing and anger from the way it was handled. I also knew Carina personally and agree that anyone who met her loved her. The other argument would be that being a great person does not make you a great business owner. As much as I respect and like her, Carina was a terrible business owner. I doubt some of the smaller farms and vendors who gave her terms will ever get paid for their last few shipments. This may cause a ripple effect and obvious hardships on those businesses as well. If you saw how much Blackbird advertised, you could argue that a huge chunk of their money went into that and not the actual running of the business. You know as well as I do that advertising traditionally in print like they did does not reciprocate a lot of times into real and sustained revenue growth. I liked their restaurant, but I completely agree with the other comments that the way the closing was handled totally sucked. Some people should own restaurants, and some people should only dine in them. Blackbird was an example of that.

October 3, 2013 | 9:40 PM

Thank you Chris. Don’t know if I ever met you. I’m Carina’s step-father, John Thacker (get that Georgie??? Look me up and spend another hour with your big man fantasies). I’ll be sure Carina learns what you said. Pretty darn accurate. You must have had some conversation with her. Thanks again.

October 4, 2013 | 11:23 AM

gbgiani59, I suspect you are embarrassing your stepdaughter. You are certainly embarrassing me, and I don’t even know you. You sure aren’t making me ever want to do business with you, even indirectly.

October 2, 2013 | 10:36 PM

great place, sadly closed. perhaps it’s gift to our city IS AN EXCUSE for numerous folk to pontificate about how they would have done it. similar to – How many drummers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Seven! One to screw in the bulb and Six to talk about how Buddy RIch would have done it.

October 3, 2013 | 5:47 PM

“The last year has been a severance.” LOL!

October 3, 2013 | 6:12 PM

Farmtoface hits it on the head. The anger expressed here is not about the restaurant closing, it’s about the way the employees were treated in the end. I do not know Carina, or any of the other owners, but I do know the restaurant and bar business, and do know how to manage people, and I can say without hesitation that any business owner that closes their business with nothing more than an email to their employees is a poor manager. End of story. No excuse for it, so ya’ll can stop with the excuses.

October 4, 2013 | 9:23 AM

Yep. ‘Johnnie’ can’t wrap his mind around that most basic of concepts.

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