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EatNic in Paoli closes over health and business issues

John Scardapane cited his own issues as well as a drop-off in business caused by rising competition.

Gail and John Scardapane in the dining room of EatNic in Paoli on Feb. 19, 2017.
Gail and John Scardapane in the dining room of EatNic in Paoli on Feb. 19, 2017.Read moreMICHAEL KLEIN / STAFF

EatNic — the "urban farmhouse" Paoli BYOB run by Saladworks founder John Scardapane — closed abruptly Tuesday after a year and a half.

Scardapane, in an email Friday sent by his wife, Gail, confirmed the closing, adding, "This was not planned but needed to be done."

He cited two reasons: his health and a drop-off in business that followed a surge in restaurant openings nearby.

Scardapane, now 54, got his start in the restaurant business in the mid-1980s after noticing that male golfers at the tony Tavistock Country Club — where he was chef — were enjoying lunchtime salads. He was forced out of Saladworks several years ago after a battle with his major investor. Around the same time, in 2015, facing a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, Scardapane underwent what is known as a Whipple procedure, in which several organs, including part of the pancreas, gallbladder, and spleen, were removed.

Though living in chronic pain, he soldiered through to open EatNic in a former Saladworks location in November 2016.

The notices were good for the American cuisine and Pottery Barn-like setting. (Read my backgrounder here.)

But he said in the email that doctors had found new growths on the remainder of pancreas as well as bile-duct obstructions. He said he was preparing for additional surgery.

"While I was proud to be the owner of EatNic, I could not be the operator, due to my health," he wrote. "Since King of Prussia Mall and four surrounding centers opened numerous new restaurants, generating thousands of new seats that needed to be filled, Eatnic could have used a full-time operator. It was like being a mom-and-pop hardware store and having Lowes and Home Depot open at the same time a few miles down the road."

"EatNic was down nearly 50 percent on comparable monthly sales from this new competition," he said. "I thought our customers would return after sampling the new competition, but they did not. This caused EatNic to be unsustainable. I will never know if I was healthy and had the strength, could I have saved EatNic; this will haunt me forever."

"My plan to have EatNic support the dedicated staff, my family and others [who] have been shattered," he wrote. "I am sincerely sorry about this happening. I am proud of all the awards and accolades EatNic won in 2017 and 2018. I genuinely want to thank all of EatNic's prior customers for all their support over the last year and a half."