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September 23, 2022

Healdsburg’s Campo Fina Will Close

Popular patio, bocce restaurant can’t keep up with rising costs

Campo Fina, for 10 years one of Healdsburg’s most popular restaurants, announced on Sept. 12 that they would be closing their business at the end of the month. 

In a message signed by owners Ari and Dawnelise Rosen sent to their mailing list and posted on their website, the Rosens outlined several causes that led to the announcement, but also suggested that other reasons were contributing factors.

“It’s difficult to point to one reason we are closing,” reads a portion of the message. “The truth is there are many truths. It would be easy to point to the doubling of our rent this year, a national labor shortage, rampant growth in our town, inflation and the lack of housing for our staff. While these are influencing factors, the truth is they inspired a deeper reflection that points toward a need for change.”

Ari Rosen opened Scopa, a small but often crowded Italian restaurant at 109A Plaza St., in 2008. Several years later, he and his wife moved into a restaurant space around the corner at 330 Healdsburg Ave. It was formerly A Divine Affair restaurant, with an Eastern European menu. The Rosens worked with the building’s owner to convert the rear garbage pick-up area into high tables and a bocce court, with an alley entrance off Center Street. 

When they opened, it was an instant success with the foodie press, and soon eclipsed its Plaza Street progenitor, Scopa, which closed in 2017. 

During the pandemic, Campo Fina converted their business to take-out options focused on their pizzas, and even in that form the restaurant remained busy and popular, with a line of cars parked in front for the well-run pick-up operation. (Their take-out operation has since been suspended.)

The closure of Campo Fina comes at the end of a presumed 10-year lease period. Matteo Granados was in the same position in 2018, and sold the Mateo’s restaurant at 214 Healdsburg Ave. to Lo and Behold, including FFE, “furniture, fixtures and equipment,” in real-estate speak. That enabled a quick turn-around for the restaurant space: Matteo’s closed, and Lo and Behold opened six months later. 

The decision to close Campo Fina was made after limited negotiation with the ownership, according to a local realtor, but a compatible path forward could not be found. “There’s not a bad player in this little drama,” said Eric Drew, who interfaces with several property owners and businesses in the downtown area, though in this case he represented neither. He said the landlord offered to renegotiate as a five-year lease, and while he “threw out some numbers,” the final terms were never fully proffered.

Rosen told the Tribune that the increase in the monthly lease meant they had to look for another place to open a restaurant. “It’s definitely turning the world upside down,” he said, “but that’s the nature of the restaurant business.” 

Asked about the rent increase, and the high-price menus that may necessarily result, Rosen shrugged. “It may be that is what it takes to operate a restaurant in Healdsburg, but it doesn’t leave much room for smaller places like this,” he said, amid the clatter of plates and conversation during a Tuesday lunch rush. 

But there’s no doubt that the Rosens created two popular, relatively affordable restaurants in Healdsburg with Scopa and Campo Fina, and by the end of the month, they’ll both be gone.

“Our hope is that Campo has served as a positive reflection of our community’s desire to keep community alive,” the message continued. “Campo Fina will always be yours as a place where you celebrated a birthday, caught up with an old friend, fell in love, laughed with your server or had a ‘best ever’ food experience, one that touched nostalgia, made you feel alive or gave you comfort, all matters of the heart and soul.”

At this point, the big question—whether or not the Rosens plan to open another restaurant, and if so where—has yet to be answered. 

Campo Fina will remain open for business until Oct. 1, at 330 Healdsburg Ave. with a patio entrance at 331 Center St. 707-395-4640‬, campofina.com

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