Ozzie’s Grill Goes Cold

Rincon Valley institution shutters Saturday

After three decades of serving burgers and fries in Rincon Valley, the grill at Ozzie’s will go cold on Nov. 12. 2011.

Owner Jeff Gonsalves said it’s a devastating blow, but increasing competition from chains like Burger King (which recently opened on Mission Blvd.), Five Guys and In-N-Out along with a down economy have forced him to shut the doors at Ozzie’s Grill (799 Montecito Center, Santa Rosa).

“I’m just a normal guy who has cooked all his life. We aren’t rich and we can’t float this place all winter. I could be $50,000 in debt by February,” said Gonsalves, who purchased the restaurant from the original owners three years ago.

“Cheese, bacon, everything has gone up in price, and people just aren’t eating out,” he said. “We’re paying out more bills than we’re taking in,” he said.

Gonsalves said other local retailers in the Montecito Center Shopping center — like many mom and pop shops throughout Sonoma County — have been slower over the last 15 months and are worried about the long winter ahead. “Maybe the bar is doing better, I don’t know,” he added.

Gonsalves tried to sell the restaurant, but said he hasn’t had any serious offers. “It’s just sad. A few years ago, you’d see 20 trucks out there in the parking lot at 11am. People were coming from Rohnert Park, all over for my burgers. Now, maybe there’s one truck. I’m not rich, you know? We just can’t do it anymore,” said Gonsalves.