Hard times hit restaurants

As we’ve noted before, this economy has not been kind to restaurants.

Even chain fast-food restaurants have been affected, as seen by the closure of several Arby’s in the Pomona area and several Wienerschnitzel locations in the Fontana area.

Recently, two higher-profile restaurants appear to have closed as well.

Mardi Gras in downtown San Bernardino has apparently ceased operations. There was no activity at the Cajun and Creole restaurant during a couple of recent visits. The restaurant’s website, however, is still up and running.

The location, 201 N. E St., formerly housed Isabella’s Ristorante, which still operates locations in Redlands and Calimesa.

The other restaurant that appears to have closed, it pains us to report, is where we shook hands with Chef Gordon Ramsay. Charlie’s Italian Cafe in La Verne was the subject of “Kitchen Nightmares” television show filming in October of last year.

We were invited to the eatery’s grand reopening at the end of Ramsay’s rehab.

The dinner was very good and I enjoyed some of the best lasagna of my life.

It appears the reprieve did not last.

A recent visit turned up a darkened restaurant, empty refrigerated case and overturned chairs on the patio.

I’m hoping for better days for Charlie’s co-owner Tatiana Leyva.

Click here to watch Charlie’s “Kitchen Nightmares” episode.