Just five months after it moved to Kennewick from Prosser, Picazo 717 has closed its doors.
Frank Magana opened the restaurant in October 2007 in downtown Prosser and enjoyed fanfare and business from locals as well as wine tourism for his style of Spanish cuisine with a Northwest twist.
He was best known for using primarily fresh, locally grown ingredients and heavily promoting Washington wines. Picazo won "Outstanding Washington Wine List" from Wine Press Northwest magazine for four consecutive years and this year was awarded "Winemakers' Choice Award" from the Washington Wine Commission's annual Washington Wine Restaurant Awards.
He made the move to the Southridge area of Kennewick in May and actually enjoyed a strong following, he said, making more money in three months than he did in a year at his Prosser location.
"But it was a bigger staff, more square footage and more rent," he said. "You have to pay for all of that."
In hindsight, he said he should have advertised more heavily.
"I just didn't have the funds to get more people up here."
Magana, who grew up in the Seattle area, worked at several Puget Sound restaurants before heading east of the mountains. Once he arrived in Prosser, the catering side of his business took off as wineries in particular hired him for special events.
Now, Magana wonders if that might have been part of the reason for Picazo's failure.
"One of the things that brought down Picazo was Chef Magana wasn't at Chef Magana's restaurant," he said. "That was my mistake. I was out catering. I was doing what I love. I was trying to have the best of both worlds, but I couldn't."
As he tried to keep the restaurant afloat, Magana liquidated all of his personal assets.
This included ending his association with his restaurant at Desert Wind Winery in Prosser, called Mojave by Picazo. The restaurant remains open but is now operated by the winery and has been renamed Mojave at Desert Wind.
Magana said that even though the rent was lower at his downtown Prosser location, closing Picazo would have been inevitable.
Now, Magana is broke and isn't sure what his next move is.
"I am not sure what the future will be."