Troubled Rosie’s cafe in Escondido announces permanent closure

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Rosie’s Cafe, the Escondido restaurant saved for the second time last month in the Food Network series “Restaurant: Impossible,” has closed permanently, its owner announced in a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon.

Despite the fundraising carnival Food Network held for owner Kaitlyn “Rosie” Pilsbury in February, she was never able to recover financially from the restaurant’s two-month closure during the pandemic. She is also still recovering from injuries she suffered in a near-fatal motorcycle crash in December.

Rosie’s closed in March and never reopened after social distancing restrictions for the food service were lifted last month. On Thursday, the restaurant’s front windows were covered with plywood and by late afternoon the Facebook post made it official.

Kaitlyn Rose Pilsbury, 33, owner of Rosie’s Cafe in Escondido.

(Courtesy picture)

“The historic and innovative venue within the Escondido community known as Rosie’s Café is saddened to report that between the effects of the horrific crime that befell ‘Rosie’ and the COVID-19 pandemic, Rosie’s Café has closed permanently,” the post read. “It is heartbreaking for ‘Rosie’ and her team to accept this reality. However, health and safety are top priorities. ‘Rosie’ is grateful to be alive and strongly engaged in her recovery process thanks to a mix of physical, cognitive and occupational therapies.”

Pilsbury also thanked the community for their support and said she hopes to one day return to Grand Avenue with her dog, Stu, to thank past customers in person.

“Remember the power of your mind and use it wisely for it is not the end; this is a fresh start,” she wrote.

Pilsbury, 33, took over the former Champion’s restaurant on Grand Avenue at the end of 2016. The restaurant was struggling to turn a profit and faced closure when she applied in 2018 to be on “Restaurant: Impossible”. In January 2019, host Robert Irvine and his team revamped the interior and menu in just 48 hours in a makeover that embraced Pilsbury’s New Jersey roots.

After the episode aired in April 2019, the restaurant’s fortunes improved. Then, on December 21, Pilsbury was riding her motorcycle near her home in Vista when a man driving an SUV illegally crossed her path. The driver of the SUV fled on foot and was never found.

Pilsbury was left in a coma after the crash with a serious head injury and broken legs and arm. After three months in hospital and numerous surgeries, she was released for outpatient physical therapy at the end of February.

Meanwhile, customers who learned of Pilsbury’s accident began donating cash to him at the restaurant. His mother, Marie Pilsbury, started a Gofundme campaign which raised $30,000. And employees stepped up to keep the restaurant running in Pilsbury’s absence.

Rosie’s client Michael Green reached out to Irvine via Instagram in December to tell the TV host about the Pilsbury accident. Irvine wanted to do something to help her. He worked with Food Network to organize a fundraising carnival to help pay Pilsbury’s medical bills and keep the restaurant’s doors open.

“You become very protective of these people in ‘Restaurant: Impossible’ and he was someone very special,” Irvine said of Pilsbury in a phone interview last month from his Florida home. “She was young, fiery and in it to win it. Then she had this terrible accident through no fault of hers, she was in a coma in the hospital and her whole life shattered before her.

The carnival, which was filmed for another “Restaurant: Impossible” episode that aired May 28, raised $118,000.

Chef Robert Irvine talks to Marie Pilsbury about Kaitlyn Pilsbury's health, as seen in season 17 of

Chef Robert Irvine talks to Marie Pilsbury about Kaitlyn Pilsbury’s health, as seen in ‘Restaurant Impossible’ season 17.

(Courtesy of the Food Network)

Carnival could have been a happy ending for Rosie’s Cafe’s story if it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic, which closed the restaurant a month later. During the first week after closing, the staff offered a take-out service. But on March 25, it closed until further notice. When the cafe’s phone number was disconnected in April, customers feared it would never reopen.

On May 31, Marie Pilsbury posted a blog entry on CaringBridge that thanked Irvine for her support but did not mention the cafe’s closure plans.

‘We are also grateful for the kindness and dedication of all the volunteers, Rosie’s Café staff, our loyal customers, the many friends and family within and beyond the Escondido community, who have supported Kaitlyn’ Rosie’ during her crisis. Thanks to you, we have learned that there is no pain or hardship that cannot be relieved by kindness and optimism,” Marie wrote.

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