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Letter from Cyprus Grove restaurant owners

To the people of Rindge and surrounding towns:

In the interest of quelling rumors and “setting the record straight,” the intention of the following is primarily to honestly express our belief that we, as a business and as a family, have not been dealt a fair hand, which is ultimately resulting in the closing of our restaurant. It is important to us that you know that we are not pointing fingers or assessing blame, but we need you to truly understand how we feel. As many of you are aware, our parents started the business over 60 years ago in Fitchburg, Mass., and after several years, made the decision to move to Rindge, where they opened the Pine Point Restaurant. In 1966, they purchased the land on Route 119 and built what is now Cyprus Grove Restaurant & Lounge, which is the oldest family-owned business in the area. Over those past 46-plus years, we have weathered many ups and downs, as any business does, but we have always managed to survive and come out on the other side with a renewed hope and intent to continue to grow and succeed. Up until the last five to six years, we managed to do just that.

Then, bigger issues, which greatly affected business began to appear. In the early 2000s, everyone felt the decline of our country’s economy. Restaurants all over the country felt the pinch as the public was forced to cut back on spending. Eating out was one of the first “extras” to get cut out of most people’s budgets. And along with these budget cuts came the constantly rising cost of fuel, which affected not only our gas tanks, but the costs of operating the business. The cost of food, propane and heating fuel soared and we tried to absorb as much of these increases as we possibly could, until we had no choice but to raise our prices to help cover some of the increased overhead. As we all realize, price increases are never a popular decision when added to the already high cost of living. This was the beginning of what feels to us like a downward free-fall.

In August of 2007, we were shut down for 13 days to install a new ansul system in our kitchen. We had taken down our existing hood so that it could be thoroughly cleaned outside, but then were informed that we were no longer “grandfathered.” We were served with a letter of demand during our Sunday Brunch, one of our busiest days of every week, that we were to shut down at 1 p.m. and remain closed until a new ansul system was installed. Thus, we endured a loss of 13 days of business while our regular customers found other places to go to. We question the need to shut us down for that long a period of time and suffer the loss of revenue that we could hardly afford.

In December of 2008, our area suffered through a horrific ice storm on a Thursday night. Although a majority of the population were without power for a week or more, we were fortunate enough to get our power back by Sunday evening. We have always been committed to be of community service, so we brought lunch and dinner to the Rindge Fire Station every day from Monday through Saturday for anyone and everyone – for fire and police personnel, for tree workers, for linesmen. We did not do this for any recognition; we did it to be of help to the community. In spite of losing a considerable amount of business as a result of the storm, just as countless businesses did, it made us feel good to do this. A letter of thanks published in the local papers never recognized or even mentioned the fact that Cyprus Grove Restaurant had done this. Upon realizing this, we approached the source responsible for writing the acknowledgement in the paper and were told, “…sorry -- can’t remember everybody.” We were personally asked by local townspeople why we didn’t help out and once again, the rumors began circulating that Cyprus Grove did not get involved with the community. This was a slap in the face to the both the restaurant and the family.

In August of 2009, the property was seized for back taxes. The parking lot looked like a crime scene investigation. Customers and employees were asked to leave and, rather than just shut the restaurant down and either padlock the doors or change the locks as would be the normal procedure when property is seized, a search was conducted for illegal contraband. Files cabinets, desks, storage shelves, etc., were ransacked. Even the owners were not permitted anywhere near the office, nor were they allowed out of a police officer’s sight. Was this necessary? Was anything found? Absolutely not. We have never had anything to hide and yet we end up looking like the local “hot” spot, so once again, the rumor mill ran rampant and we lose business. Three separate properties in the area were seized that day, as was written in the local newspaper, and yet Cyprus Grove is the only one mentioned specifically by name, complete with the amount of taxes owed. We feel that we were unfairly singled out. There were also other occasions when various normal, periodic inspections were done and it was deemed necessary for multiple cruisers to accompany the inspectors. We also question the validity of these actions.

In 2010, we were again notified of the loss of yet another “grandfather clause.” We were required to install a fire-alarm system that we could not afford. This came after countless inspections and being told that the grandfather clause would remain in effect until the restaurant was sold and only then would the new owner be required to install a fire alarm system. At no time was this written as a violation. Again, a serious loss of revenue due to the fact that our Thursday night Karaoke was shut down for two weeks until the alarm system was installed, operational and inspected. At the time, we questioned the legality of these actions, but our inquiry was never answered.

In closing, we are and always will be grateful to our loyal patrons for supporting us through the years. We have formed many friendships, which we hope will continue, although in a different capacity. We do not want anyone to think of what we have said here as “sour grapes.” We only want to express what we feel. We feel targeted. We feel that we have been forced out of our family’s life line business due to circumstances beyond our control that have caused a financial hardship impossible to overcome. The restaurant goes up for auction on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 11 a.m. It is with great sadness that we bid you, and Cyprus Grove, farewell.

The Eleftheriou Family

Cyprus Grove Restaurant & Lounge

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