One of the sadder stories in Washington wine from 2011 was the closing of Kennewick’s Picazo 7 Seventeen restaurant. However, to many, it seemed unlikely that owner Chef Frank Magaña would be gone for long. Indeed, earlier this week Magaña announced the opening of Chef Magaña Catering.
The turnabout happened quickly. Magaña announced the closure of Picazo, which featured ‘local fare with a Spanish flair,’ last November. This came less than a year after the restaurant moved to Kennewick in search of additional business. Prior to this, Picazo had been located in downtown Prosser.
While sales went up at the new location, so did overhead, making the situation unsustainable. “We never wanted to leave Prosser,” Magaña later admitted.
Once they closed the restaurant, Magaña and his wife were planning to move back to the Seattle area. “We were all set to go back to the west side,” Magaña says. However, a group of local supporters implored the couple to reconsider. With a limited number of high quality restaurants and caterers, Magaña’s impact on the area had been profound.
After consulting with accountants, the couple decided to start a catering company, operating out of the Alexandria Nicole Cellars tasting room. The company will be the exclusive caterer for Alexandria Nicole and will also serve businesses throughout the Yakima and Walla Walla valleys. “We’re ready for business right now,” Magaña says.
Magaña originally started out in eastern Washington catering to wineries and other businesses. After opening Picazo 7 Seventeen, named after Magaña’s mother’s maiden name and the restaurant’s address, Magana continued to run a brisk catering business.
Indeed, this may have contributed to Picazo’s demise with Magaña telling Andy Perdue at the News Tribune, “One of the things that brought down Picazo was Chef Magaña wasn’t at Chef Magaña’s restaurant.” That won’t be the problem here, and catering has often appeared to be where Magaña’s passion lies.
“I’m excited,” Magaña says of opening the new business. “It’s going back to our roots.”