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Local News

Sears, Epiphany Restaurant Deny Rumors That They Plan to Close

Such rumors have circulated before, and company representatives insist the gossip is wrong again.

Maybe it’s the bad economy, or maybe it’s all this talk about company bailouts. Whatever the reason, rumors are circulating about the closure of at least a couple businesses in town: Sears Roebuck in La Cumbre Plaza and Epiphany Restaurant on Victoria Street. However, representatives from both places insist the rumors are false.

The rumors were posted on local blogs. Both blurbs — the one on Sears from an anonymous writer on the Edhat.com site and the one on Epiphany from the blog Cookies in Heaven — were widely read and drew a lot of comments.

Gossip on the possible closure of Sears — whose corporate office has been terminating stores around the country — has been in the air for months. In May, Noozhawk received such a tip and brought it to Sears corporate, only to be told it was wrong. (Noozhawk did not publish a story on the matter.)

On Friday, Alice Love, senior marketing manager at La Cumbre Plaza, said the latest hearsay is wrong again.

“I really don’t know where the rumor started or why it keeps being perpetuated,” she said. “That’s exactly what it is — a rumor. Sears is a pretty big brand; they are not going to be closing.”

Love said the store at La Cumbre is doing “pretty good.”

“We’ve noticed more and more people there; we see a lot of shopping bags,” she said. “As we get closer to Christmas, we’re going to see even more.”

Around the country, things haven’t been so good for Sears.

From August to mid-November, Sears Corporate — which owns Kmart — announced the closure of 22 stores nationwide. The vast majority of them will close in January and February, spokeswoman Kim Freely told Noozhawk from company headquarters in Illinois.

Only one store was in California: a Kmart in Northridge.

Also, a November article in the Chicago Sun-Times said Sears Holding Corp. is entering the holiday season with 42 percent less cash on hand than a year ago.

By way of context, though, Freely said the corporation has more than 3,900 stores worldwide.

Asked if more closures are on the way, she said, “I can’t speculate on anything.”

Meanwhile, the rumor on Epiphany seems to have taken a toll on business, said executive chef Crystal Harris, who is known by many as “Pink.”

“Everyone and their mother has been asking us if it’s true,” she said. “It’s brutal.”

Harris said the restaurant at 21 W. Victoria has been feeling the economic slump lately, although recent good media coverage on its food has been helpful.

“But the bar scene, as far as the day-to-day is concerned, it is absolutely being affected,” she said. “Especially with this rumor going on.”

Epiphany opened eight years ago under the joint ownership of Alberto and Michelle Mastrangelo and actor Kevin Costner. The Mastrangelos bought out Costner about a year ago, Harris said.

The blog also mentioned that Epiphany’s sister restaurant, a wine-and-carpaccio bar in Montecito named Sesto Senso, is shuttered. Harris said the restaurant at 1026 Coast Village Road near Vons grocery store closed about a month ago, but reopened last week in the same location as a sushi restaurant named Sushi 7.

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