On its birthday, luck runs out for Santa Rosa’s Carrows restaurant

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It’s about to get tougher to find a simple, economical diner-style meal in Santa Rosa.

Forty-five years to the day after Carrows opened on the north end of Cleveland Avenue, it’s shutting down Tuesday.

The chain restaurant narrowly avoided destruction by the 2017 Tubbs fire, only to see its patronage decline in the wake of the inferno.

It dodged another bullet three years ago, when the Texas firm that then owned Coco’s and Carrows shut down dozens of what it called underperforming restaurants — including the Coco’s on Santa Rosa’s Farmers Lane. Although Carrows survived that round of closures, its luck has run out.

The Cleveland Avenue restaurant’s doors will be locked for good Tuesday evening. Employees said they’re not authorized to speak to the press, but one said the restaurant will shut down at 6 or 7 p.m.

A 1973 Press Democrat article said Carrows opened for business that Dec. 4. For most of its run, the restaurant never closed.

The chain was founded in Santa Clara in 1970 by David Nancarrow. Just this past September, the Texas firm that owned the Carrows and Coco’s chains sold them to the Oregon company that owns Shari’s Cafe and Pies.

Santa Rosa earlier lost its Marie Callender’s and Bakers Square.

Carrows was so narrowly missed by the Tubbs fire that part of the restaurant’s ornamental shrubbery burned. The restaurant is located just south of the incinerated Kmart and just north of the damaged Trader Joe’s that reopened less than three weeks ago.

Carrows also is a short walk from the storefront that was Lucy Gustafson’s Recherche du Plaisir, a gourmet chocolate shop that closed last May. Gustafson cited a steep drop in sales for the closure, which she blamed entirely on the fire.

You can reach staff writer Chris Smith at 707 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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