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Roast Public House at 558 State St., closed last month. 

The owners of the health-focused Forage Kitchen on State Street closed their first restaurant, the nearly 7-year-old Roast Public House, three days before opening their new Forage location at Hilldale Shopping Center.

"Rent creeped up over the years and got too high for us," said Doug Hamaker, who owned Roast, 558 State St., with business partner Henry Aschauer. They closed it March 16. The men also own the two Forage restaurants together.

Roast was "mostly a food service business," and "you need to be running a busy bar in a space that size to make it" on State Street, Hamaker said.

Sales were starting to creep down, and with added competition in recent years, Roast's lunch business had taken a hit, he said, noting that weekends were always busy.

Hamaker said he was sad have to close Roast, but that he and Aschauer are "focused on making Forage as great as possible" and to continue expanding their partnerships with local farmers.

Forage is largely a grab-and-go business, allowing customers to build their own salads and bowls, put together by an employee behind the counter.

The new location was most recently occupied by Sperry. At 2,100 square feet, the Hilldale location is bigger than the 1,300-square-foot State Street Forage, which opened in October 2015.

Read more restaurant news at go.madison.com/restaurantnews.

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