After seven years of operation, Brocach restaurant on Monroe Street has officially closed.
The restaurant closed temporarily after Memorial Day, citing the impact of major construction on Monroe Street, and planned to open after Labor Day. Business had slowed down in March and April, said co-owner Melanie Gautreau, but when construction kicked up in May, it became a “ghost town.”
“Once May hit, it went south really fast for us,” Gautreau said.
Business contracted by over 50 percent, she said, and that’s particularly hard on front-of-house staff who make the bulk of their money on tips. There were weeks when the restaurant's sidewalk was inaccessible, she said.
“It was more expensive to open the doors then it was to close them. That’s when you know it was the right decision to make,” she said.
They planned to re-open, but the loss of revenue, plus severe rains in August, made that impossible, Gautreau said.
“It was literally like the floodgates opened in the basement,” she said.
The restaurant’s prep kitchen is in the basement, and while Brocach was trying to prepare for reopening, with each rain staff had to remove “gallons and gallons” of water and sewage.
The landlords were supportive and brought in professional cleaning crews, Gautreau said, but after paying bills and rent on the shuttered restaurant for months, they made the decision to permanently close.
“It’s not what we had planned, nor was it what we wanted,” she said.
In closing, Brocach on Monroe is the latest business citing Monroe Street construction as a factor in closing.
Everyone knew the project, which made Monroe a one-way street for the 10-month duration, would be a challenge for shops and restaurants. Michael Miller, city business development specialist, told the Cap Times in March that based on questions to retailers who weathered other major corridor reconstruction projects, retailers were steeling themselves for a possible 20 to 40 percent decrease in sales.
Freshii restaurant, at 1605 Monroe St., closed after just two months, although the owner refused to comment on how big a role construction played in the decision. Jacs Dining and Tap House, 2611 Monroe St., says it will reopen, but does not have a valid seller’s license.
There is another Brocach location on the Capitol Square, at 7 W. Main St. Brocach had put a “significant investment” in its Monroe Street building with the hope of sticking around for a long time, Gautreau said.
“The Monroe Street location was sort of your little neighborhood pub, really family friendly,” she said, and had a different vibe from the downtown location's “happy hour, late night crowd” and “urban downtown pub” feel.
As a neighborhood resident, Gautreau said she will support whatever business takes Brocach's space.
“My kids spent the better part of their grade school years there,” she said. “It was really just a pleasure to be part of that Monroe Street district and we certainly plan on continuing to support the neighborhood.”