Cisero’s Ristorante, a Park City mainstay, closes doors
If Cisero’s Ristorante, a staple on Main Street for more than 30 years, has served its last meal, owners Steve and Cissy McComb will treasure the memories.
The McCombs closed the restaurant this week, having lined up a buyer for the building, at 306 Main St. As of Thursday, no deal had been finalized, leaving open the possibility that Cisero’s could reopen, but the McCombs were anticipating that the end had come for the venerable restaurant that helped shape Park City’s historic district.
And they were reminiscing.
“Thirty years, seven months and four days we were open,” said Steve McComb, who bought the building for $10,000. “A long, long time.”
To Cissy McComb, one thing stands out above everything else: the employees. She recalled the early days, before housing costs rose in Park City, when employees remained with the restaurant for several years. But even in recent years, she said, the staff is what has helped Cisero’s thrive.
“We always had great employees, from the very first day we opened,” she said. “It’s just incredible. They really do make the restaurant what it is. They are the ambiance, they are the bones of the place.”
One employee said working at Cisero’s was like being part of a family. Kristine Arrivillaga, the restaurant’s office manager from 2010 until earlier this year, said everyone working at the restaurant was part of the same team. She especially enjoyed the annual Sundance Film Festival, when the atmosphere would be electric, with crowds packing the restaurant for private parties.
Working for the McCombs, she said, is something she’ll never forget.
“They had an excellent balance of managing, with Steve handling the restaurant operation and Cissy managing the finances,” she said. “They were a great team. And with their kids, and everyone else, it was just an amazing place. Cisero’s was just really unique.”
Steve McComb said he will miss the jam sessions and live music for which the restaurant became known. A litany of famous musicians played there over the years, including ones like Steve Miller, Joe Walsh, Sting, John Legend and Eddie Van Halen.
He recalled one time when he sang backup harmonies for Walsh — only he didn’t know the lyrics to the verses of one of Walsh’s biggest solo hits, “Rocky Mountain Way.”
“I felt fortunate to be standing behind him,” Steve McComb said. “He didn’t know that I didn’t know the song.”
Cissy McComb reminisced about one of her favorite memories from the early days, when Sidney Poitier accidentally touched his menu to a burning candle, lighting it on fire.
“It was hilarious,” she said. “I had to go, ‘Excuse me, sir.’ I gave him another menu and put the fire out. But he was one of my favorite customers ever, because I’ve never seen a more gracious, polite person.”
But more than interactions with celebrities, the McCombs will remember how they watched Park City grow up. There were only a handful of restaurants in town when they opened Cisero’s. Main Street had more of a small-town feel.
“I’m not saying it was better then — it was just different,” she said. “I think there was more of a close-knit community. But it’s nice to have been here all this time. It’s nice to have started in the ‘80s and be leaving in 2016.”
Even if Cisero’s is gone for good, the McCombs will remain an influential part of the Park City restaurant scene. They also own Bistro 412 on Main Street and Baja Cantina at the base of Park City Mountain Resort and said they have no intention to sell them. Closing Cisero’s, though, would give them a glimpse of retirement.
“This is just kind of downsizing our business and giving us more time to have a life,” she said.
The McCombs declined to offer further details about the pending sale of 306 Main St., citing a confidentiality agreement.
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A study pegged the number of Sundance Film Festival attendees at 122,313, with the event generating an economic impact of $182.5 million. Both numbers represent a slight decrease from the 2018 festival.