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This summer will be the last for ZZest Café & Bar

This summer will be the last for ZZest Café & Bar

ZZest Café & Bar, known locally for its culinary excellence and dazzling outdoor patio, will close its doors at the end of the summer, owners Jerry and LeeAnn Zubay announced this week.

Its final day of business will be Sept. 16.

"Anyone who has owned a restaurant understands the emotional ups and downs that come with this unique business," the Zubays wrote in a letter to customers. "I have to say during the last seven years of ZZest, the ups far out weighed the downs."

The Zubay family has been a fixture in the Rochester dining scene since the late 1970s. They have been involved in the creation of more than a dozen local restaurants, from the former Henry Wellington to existing eateries, such as Newt's, Redwood Room and 300 First. (The latter three are now owned by the family of Mike Currie, a former business partner of the Zubays.)

In a recent interview, LeeAnn told us she is proud of what ZZest has accomplished over the past seven years, but added, "now is the time to move forward and do something else."

ZZest first opened in late 2009 as a small cafe and artisan food shop, offering specialty meats, cheeses and other unique ingredients. But over time, the business evolved into a full restaurant and bar featuring creative menu pairings and craft cocktails. 

For the ZZest team, it was about creating a chef-inspired experience that rivaled anything you could expect to find in a larger city.

Photo: ZZest patio / Med City Beat

Photo: ZZest patio / Med City Beat

"During the past two years our chef tastings have surpassed the rest of the menu items, been acknowledged and compared to big names in the Twin Cites, and our patio has been recognized nationwide," the Zubays wrote in the letter. "We could not be more proud of our amazing kitchen staff headed up by Chef Justin Schoville."

Thanking customers, they added, "We are humbled to have experienced this and we joke that you all feed our restaurant addiction."

The impending closing of ZZest comes as the next generation looks to make its own imprint on Rochester's evolving culinary landscape. Earlier this year, Zubay offspring Lindsay and Jason teamed up with Schoville to open Porch and Cellar in downtown Rochester. Porch's signature fried chicken has been the talk of the town for months now, and when Cellar opens to the public this September, LeeAnn said she anticipates the menu will offer the same level of creativity ZZest customers have come to expect. 

As for the ZZest Lunch Counter and Market, it will be remain open in the skyway food court downtown. There, you will be able to purchase select items previously available at the cafe, such as catering platters and the popular Scordalia bean spread.

"In a way, the original ZZest Cafe is downtown, in the form of ZZest Lunch Counter," said LeeAnn. "I guess you can say my goal has been reached, but I will continue to lovingly evolve both the Counter and the Market."

According to LeeAnn, all cafe employees wishing to remain apart of the business have been offered positions at their other restaurants.

While the ZZest team is remaining mum on what's next for the existing cafe space, they did offer a hint that there may be something in the works. What that is remains unclear — though it will more than likely mean Jerry and LeeAnn taking a step back.

"We have truly been honored to have been a part of the new, ambitious and fast growing restaurant scene in Rochester," they wrote. "It is certainly different than when we started in 1978. All in all, it’s been a fun ride, so we thank you!"

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