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Victoria's Toscana Artisan Bakery & Bistro, 77901 Bar close

By ALLISON MILES
July 30, 2013 at 2:30 a.m.
Updated July 31, 2013 at 2:31 a.m.

77901 Bar, 221 S. Main St., closed Saturday. The business, owned by Lauren Bade, opened in October 2010.

TO LEARN MORE ...

• About cooking lessons or booking private parties at Toscana Artisan Bakery & Bistro, call 361-573-0001 or email andy.s@

sparkmanindustries.com

• About purchasing Toscana cheesecakes, call 361-655-4316 or email heidimbp@yahoo.com

• About the available restaurant site, call 361-550-3761

For more information

About booking private events at 77901 Bar, call 361-582-4222.

Victoria lost two small businesses last weekend.

Toscana Artisan Bakery & Bistro, 5210 N. Navarro St., and 77901 Bar, 221 S. Main St., both closed Saturday.

Lauren Bade, who owns 77901 Bar, confirmed her close via phone Tuesday afternoon but was at a family function and unavailable for additional comment. She said the bar will open for private events only.

The bar opened for business in October 2010 and sits alongside Lauren Bade, a gift shop that offers a variety of home decor items, accessories and more.

The gift shop remains open.

Meanwhile, a sign posted on Toscana's front door thanked customers and friends for their patronage.

"We have enjoyed serving you throughout the years, and we truly appreciate your loyalty and support," it read. "Please keep in touch."

Toscana got its start about 2002 in Whispering Creek Center, said Robert Sparkman, whose family owned and ran the business. It operated for several years before Andrew Sparkman left the food industry for oil-field work.

Andrew Sparkman got back into the restaurant business in February 2010, when he and a business partner opened Melanzana in the company's current location. On Oct. 25, 2010, after about a monthlong close, the restaurant reopened in the same location, again as Toscana Artisan Bakery & Bistro.

Robert Sparkman cited health care reform as part of the reason behind Saturday's closure, noting that small-business owners must soon insure all full-time employees.

And that means added cost.

"It was marginal, as far as being a moneymaker. This would have put it to where it wasn't making money," he said about the restaurant. "This was as logical a time as any to go ahead and close it."

He said Andrew Sparkman and Andrew's wife, Heidi Sparkman, also plan to enter the commercial food business, distributing cheesecakes and gelato in markets such as Austin, Corpus Christi, Houston and San Antonio.

Crossroads residents can order the cakes locally, according to a sign on the eatery's door, and cooking lessons will be available. The company also will be available for private evening parties of two to 16 people.

Toscana found work for a majority of its employees.

Robert Sparkman encouraged Crossroads residents to support area businesses as best they can, noting that new laws and regulations make it difficult for such businesses to survive.

Also, he said, Victoria residents will rarely wait in line to eat.

"If it's more than 10 minutes, they're going to walk out," he said. "That's not the reason we shut it down, but it's a point we couldn't understand for a while."

The eatery has received numerous phone calls and Facebook page comments, he said, and it seems people are sad regarding the closure.

"And so are we," he said. "We had a good following, a really good clientele."

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