The Grasslands Bakery in Sonoita, Arizona Is Now Closed

Well, it’s official: the Grasslands Bakery and Cafe in Sonoita, Arizona, is closed for business as of today. My parents have been trying to sell the property for a while now; and just very recently,  a buyer came forward who purchased the building and the liquor license.

It all happened quite quickly, as these things do.

Some of you may remember me posting early last year that the Grasslands was closing (read about it here). And back then, it did for  nearly 7 months; but for various complex reasons, it had to be re-opened.

This time, it’s for real.

I’m sure some folks reading this will be saddened; but it’s great news for my parents, who have been working way too long and who are long past retirement age.

Here’s one of the last lunch tables; my brother John is on the right, he came in from Boston to help with closing down the restaurant:

Just a few hours later, all those paintings and quilts came down, down, down.

Below, my mom making lunches one last time; the Grasslands has been around since January 1996, and I worked there all the time the first 6 years: I know how hard it is to churn out lots of beautiful lunch plates, it’s not exactly a leisurely activity!

Of course, the Hobart mixer was a big behind-the-scenes player in the success of the Grasslands…

…as was the Blodgett oven…

I was very happy to see that one of the few real old-timers in the area, Sonny McQuiston, made it in one last time for a bag full of danish; I remember selling him danish 20 years ago when our family had the Ovens of Patagonia and the McQuistons lived out in the San Rafael valley on their ranch.  A diet that regularly includes cheese danish clearly has health benefits. Here he is with my mom:

Once the doors were locked up for the day,we had a very short break before starting to clean up and move out. That’s Eric and Frank in the back; Frank came in from Madison, Wisconsin to help close down:

And once I’d packed up my quilts, I headed back to Tucson; here’s one last view of the Grasslands:


RIP Grasslands: a lovely place enjoyed by many for 16 years.

8 thoughts on “The Grasslands Bakery in Sonoita, Arizona Is Now Closed

  1. Clare, I love your depiction of the closing of Grasslands — pictures and prose. It was so much a part of your life. You will miss it.

    The closing is both an occasion of joy and sadness. I’m sure Monika and Tom are thrilled to realize that their retirement is actually beginning; arising at three o’clock in the morning is no longer a prerequisite of life in Sonoita. The many faithful Grasslands diners are crying in their coffee, however, that this beautiful restaurant with gourmet fare is no longer an option.

    The “far-aways” will miss the birthday boxes, commissioned by Clare’s aunt, Helen Mulligan, to honor birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Having been the recipient of a “care package” on more than one occasion, I can tell you that Grasslands bread and “claws” were unbeatable.

    Enjoy your retirement, Monika and Tom.

    What are you going to do with all the quilts you took off the walls, Clare? You’ll have to have your own art show!

    Maryi Aylward Stewart

  2. Great blog entry, Clare. What an enormous relief despite it being tinged with sadness. How could it not? Grasslands was a great contribution to the community and your family’s hospitality, creativity, and dedication to fabulous food will be sorely missed.

  3. Just wanted to say congratulations to Tom and Monika and their retirement! My wife Rebecca and I became regulars during the “re-opening” period — we enjoyed the fantastic food and great company at Grasslands. I’m happy to have had the opportunity to meet Tom and Monika and their wonderful food before it closed for good.

    Thanks for the blog posting Clare — we were curious to know what had happened.

    All the best to your family and to your retirement! And thanks for the wonderful food and memories.

    – Professor Hill

  4. We are so sorry….My husband and I celebrated our 43rd Anniversary in Patagonia last weekend and just found Grasslands Bakery this year. It is/was a wonderful place, great box lunches, and cute, cute! Good luck to your parents

  5. The first and last time I visited I was treated to a splendid meal and felt treated by Monica not only as a honoured guest but like a good friend.

    Althoug she alread mentioned that they want to close down in the near future I always had the hope Monica would be greeting me again on one of my rare visits from Germany….but on the other hand I am really glad she finally has more time to enjoy the beauty of the desert around here….

    Greetings from Berlin
    Bettina

    • Bettina, thank you so much for your kind words. My mother is very gracious, you’re right. I’m very sorry they missed you during your visit. I’ll let my parents know and ask them to send you a message. Berlin is one of the great cities of the world; it’s certainly my favorite part of Germany!

      I’m glad you have fond memories of the restaurant. Thanks again.

  6. My wife and I will miss Grasslands. Even though I don’t make it back to Arizona often, a visit to Grasslands was still a highlight. Now I have to find somewhere in Tucson that sells decent sauerkraut!

    Best retirement wishes to your folks.

    -Derek..

    • The Grasslands is gone, but there’s always a chance my folks will open up a new place. I’m not kidding. If you forward me your email I’ll make sure you’ll be notified if they do. Thanks for sharing your memories. 🙂

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