K-12 Tax, Referendum and Spending Climate: Sunroom Café closes for good; ‘It’s sad that it was all sort of taken away,’ owner said

Samara Kalk Derby:

Mark Paradise made the tough decision to close Sunroom Café on State Street, even though, at age 67, he said, he had a least two more good years to give it.

That was also the number of years he had left on his lease at the sunny, second-floor restaurant at 638 State St., which routinely had customers lined up down the stairs waiting on weekends.

Paradise just marked his 25th year of ownership, and said his decision was also based on the uncertainties of the pandemic and the unknowns about being able to reopen safely. He said he also worried about retaining skilled employees in a limited work capacity. “I guess there were too many variables,” he said.

He enjoyed the job, he said. “Going to the café each morning, interacting with all of the employees and greeting customers, I didn’t want those feelings to change under the new reality of COVID-19.”

Paradise said being on the second floor made doing business during the pandemic difficult, since he couldn’t offer outdoor dining. Before the pandemic, Sunroom — which served breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch — could seat about 65 people inside. Complying with COVID restrictions would be impossible because the tables were squeezed too close together to make distancing realistic, he said.

“We had a good business, and it was a lot of fun working and being down there and meeting all the students and faculty and staff,” Paradise said. “We had regular customers that I saw five times a week and it’s sad that it was all sort of taken away.”

Much more on Madison’s substantial Fall 2020 tax & spending increase referendum, here.