The news came via Twitter.
"Dear DownCity Friends: I want to thank everyone and anyone that has ever walked thru the doors of Downcity."
I guessed it meant bad news for Abby Cabral and Rick Conforti and a visit to the
restaurant website confirmed it with a note pinned over the homepage.
I want to thank everyone and anyone that has ever walked through the doors of DOWNCITY. What owning DOWNCITY has meant to me -- words cannot describe.
I have made so many friendships that go so far beyond the orange walls. I cannot be more thankful. My heart and soul are bleeding for my friends (employees) that are out of work, especially at this time of year. My heart is also hurting for all of the customers (my friends) that I see every Friday and Saturday. Please know that I will miss those days forever!
- Abby C xoxox"
There was also a farewell quote from "The Birdcage."
Downcity Restaurant famously held a drag brunch each Sunday.
Last March, the Providence restaurant appeared on "Kitchen Nightmares" with chef Gordon Ramsay as the owners tried to right the business, which they admitted was in financial trouble. Ramsay was tough on Cabral, the general manager, but he left hopeful that the publicity and lessons he shared with the staff could bring business back.
It was not to be.
When Abby Cabral and Rico Conforti bought Downcity in 2005, their luck turned bad almost immediately when a kitchen fire not only brought down the restaurant but the whole building at 151 Weybosset St. The day the building was demolished, Cabral and Conforti started looking for new locations for Downcity. Two years later they opened in a huge space at 50 Weybosset.
The restaurant struggled. Whether it was the location just a bit off the beaten track by the now closed Arcade; or the change from a diner concept to an upscale restaurant that had serious debt (which Conforti told Ramsay on camera), the owners could not make it work.