Not every restaurant closure is noteworthy, particularly in this still-iffy economy, and especially on Spring Mountain, where it could be argued there is something of a food service glut.
But when we discovered the Maple Tree Café had shuttered last month - actually, with an eviction noticed posted on its door, an uncommonly extreme measure - it seemed worthy of an epitaph.
Maple Tree, readers might recall, made a big stir last year when it was featured on the Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible makeover show. Within the show’s 48-hour guidelines, that impossibly buff British chef Robert Irwin and his team had reworked the Café, owned by then-27-year old Ashley Robertson, into an efficient business.
When Food Network checked in with Maple Tree in September of last year, Irwin’s changes had been implemented and things were going smoothly. Robertson reported that sales had doubled and the business was expanding into catering.
As it happens, the Café was a victim of its own success… sort of. Just before press time, Robertson responded to inquiries via Facebook, informing, “We actually still operate in a new facility closer to the Strip, and strictly do catering. Catering became a huge by product of our success on the show and was much more profitable.”
While the catering took off, the love of the restaurant faltered.
“One of the biggest things I learned over that time after filming (the show) was that I just didn’t love it as much as I thought,” she continued. “I’m sure anyone who owns or has owned a restaurant could tell you if you don’t eat sleep and breathe it, it’ll drain you. And the logistics of catering have allowed me to spend more time in the kitchen building recipes and working on new ideas.”
Maple Tree’s current clients include “two local hotels” and the school district. “It was a completely positive move for us,” says Robertson. Hopefully that’s some solace for fans of their famous Monte Cristo. CL