WILKES-BARRE — Au revoir, Southside Bistro.
The French restaurant that opened Oct. 14 at South Main and Ross streets has closed its doors, and building owner Sam Johnson said there are no plans for it to reopen — at least not anytime soon.
Johnson said the restaurant operator, listed as Isabelle Garcia, has returned to live in France and Johnson said she left behind a complicated pile of legal and banking issues.
“She left a mess,” Johnson said Monday. “We thought we could get it reopened under new ownership within two weeks, but that just isn’t possible. This could be tied up for, well, let’s just say a long time.”
A recent Times Leader story talked of how the Southern France-born Garcia was realizing her dream of owning a restaurant at the corner spot, a building that was once a bank and a magistrate’s office.
Garcia brought along executive chef, and fellow French native, Gwenaël (Gwen) Le Pape, who might be well-known to foodies as a 2013 Food Network “Chopped” champion.
On the Southside Bistro website, it is stated: “Located in the former South Side Bank and Trust Co. building, Southside Bistro features a lively bar and dining room, along with a private room for a more intimate experience. From the colors used throughout to the hand-painted murals, Southside Bistro is a place where friends come to enjoy good food, good drink, and good company.”
Johnson has converted the upper floors of the former South Side Bank building into luxury apartments and then said he ran out of money for a ground-floor restaurant and bar. He showed the space to Garcia, who liked what she saw in the space with high ceilings, plenty of natural light and Victorian architecture and settled on it as the spot for her Southside Bistro.
It had a seating capacity for approximately 200 people.