Casa de Pedro in Watertown has been shuttered following bankruptcy proceedings, owner Pedro Alarcón said. His financial woes stem from the closing of his short-lived Seaport restaurant on the first floor of a luxury Congress Street building.
In a May 2018 article, the Globe chronicled the Seaport branch’s troubles, which were said to have included neighbor complaints from neighbors and disputes with the landlord. The Venezuelan restaurant amassed $3 million in debt during its first 18 months and ultimately shut down that summer.
Alarcón closed his Watertown restaurant on Feb. 28 after a US Bankruptcy Court decision, he said. Because part of his financing for the Seaport restaurant used the Watertown restaurant as collateral, it needed to be sold to pay off debt — which he said has climbed to $3.4 million.
“After the Seaport [business] closed down, the only place the bank could collect the money was from Watertown.” he said. “After five or six months, we got to the point where we could no longer run it. The court shut it down.”
Though the Seaport location didn’t last, the Watertown business had been a mainstay in the town. Alarcón opened it in 1996, first in Watertown Square. Twelve years ago, he moved it to a larger, lively space on Arsenal Street.
Over the years, restaurant critics Sheryl Julian and Alison Arnett praised Alarcón’s food: pork chops with plantains, seafood paella, arepas, perfectly fried corn empanadas.
As for the debacle in the Seaport?
“I think we came there too early. It was not ready, and it’s still not ready,” he said, citing a lack of foot traffic.
Yet the Watertown Casa de Pedro lured customers long before the area became popular. Soon, the neighborhood will welcome a Shake Shack and a Tender Greens. But Alarcón is philosophical about the closing.
“This is a thing that happens,” he said. “I came to this country 34 years ago, without knowing how to cook. I learned, became a chef, opened a restaurant, and this happened. Life is a cycle. The cycle is ending.”
Or is it?
The restaurant’s Facebook page contains a hopeful message:
“Today, the doors close to create a new adventure, for you! Stay tuned, watch closely, for we want you to be our first to share our table once again, friends of La Casa de Pedro.”