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A Giant Is Falling


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#1 DonRocks

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 05:00 PM

I cannot post details without explicit permission, but prepare to grieve for one of our most beloved institutions.

 

I have now heard this from no less than six people, all independently. Damn it I want to tell you ASAP so you can hurry up and get there one more time.

 

To put things in perspective, it isn't even the worst news I've heard in this past week - not by a long shot. As sad as a restaurant closure is, another tragic event has dwarfed it in scope.

 

Respect and sorrow. You know who you are, and how much I care for you both.

Rocks.


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#2 jasonc

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 05:02 PM

:(


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#3 DaveO

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 07:55 PM

I haven't the foggiest idea which restaurant this might be but one thing wouldn't surprise me:  Huge increases in rents.

 

Rental rates have soared.  Some restaurants with old expiring leases are probably looking at enormous increases.  I've been hearing about rents from several sources.  If some restaurants have tried to renegotiate in view of expiring leases I suspect they are planning closures.

 

Of course there could be many many reasons, but I have heard abt rents from several sources.  In certain submarkets the retail rates have gone through the roof.  


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#4 Thomas P

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:00 PM

I heard about this from a friend this morning. I'm still in a state of shock over it. I heard that it is, indeed, a matter of no longer being able to afford the building rent. :(


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#5 Lori Gardner

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:04 PM

waiting anxiously to hear the news.  i trust you will post here when you can.


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#6 johnb

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:06 PM

Ben's????



#7 Jonathan

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:45 PM

We'd mourn bens for less than a day. Think bigger. This place puts DC on the culinary f'n map.

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#8 Josh Radigan

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:59 PM

Tallula


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#9 Sthitch

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 10:11 PM

If it is Palena I will not be rushing there to relive some of the great meals that I have had because it would only remind me of how far it has fallen. A once great restaurant that unfortunately took a step too far and suffered for it.

#10 jasonc

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 10:22 PM

sounds like it's restaurant eve


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#11 JBag57

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 10:35 PM

Yeah, the "how much I care for you both" comment had me thinking of Restaurant Eve as well, but I didn't think Old Town would have been one of the markets where rents are skyrocketing (although the recent "sale" of the Yacht Club probably is having the effect of opening the floodgates to massive redevelopment).



#12 Kanishka

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 11:31 PM

Two Amys?  CityZen?  Citronelle is already gone.  Marcels?



#13 Choirgirl21

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 11:32 PM

If it is Restaurant Eve someone please dear god tell me, even if its via PM so I can go there this wkd.
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#14 lion

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 11:34 PM

Ditto to what Choirgirl21 said. 

 

That's one of the sad parts of staying in the same town for a long time. Things don't stay the same and some favorites disappear along the way. 



#15 Thomas P

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 11:37 PM

I don't have direct word about it, but it is Palena that's closing. A friend was drinking with some members of the staff last night and said they were pretty upset about it. I hated hearing the news from her this morning, it's my favorite restaurant in the city and a stone's throw away from where I live.



#16 Antonio Burrell

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 12:00 AM

As I sit here and look at that list of suspects, it saddens me to no end, breaks my heart. Any one of those restaurants have been instrumental in creating timeless memories for many, and to lose any of them impacts not only us but their families and all the struggles that went into making the dream a reality in the first place. The loss of any of those places whether Ben's or Eve or Palena leaves us all as a community a little poorer. I drink a drink tonight to whomever you are...I hope this is but a pit stop on the way to something better, a bump and not an end.
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#17 Josh Radigan

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 05:30 AM

let me say I do hope its not the one I suggested. and for that none of the ones that have been listed following. 


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#18 B.A.R.

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 07:34 AM

Although I understand the newsworthiness of Rocks post, the thread should have been closed after that. Unsubstantiated speculation about a restaurant (or any businesses) demise can have real effects.


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#19 Keithstg

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 07:38 AM

Although I understand the newsworthiness of Rocks post, the thread should have been closed after that. Unsubstantiated speculation about a restaurant (or any businesses) demise can have real effects.

 

Agreed x100.


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#20 Escoffier

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 09:34 AM

Actually, after some cogitation, it's probably just as bad to say anything until the dreaded event occurs.  (cliche alert!) When the other shoe drops, no other business (group, restaurant, person, whatever) will have been subjected to innuendo and speculation.  While it's great that most of us never speculate on things like this, once a name is mentioned, the rumor takes on a life of it's own (not one that is fatal, I hope, but things happen). 

 

Now events like rumored openings, unbelievable bargains, amazing food, those should be encouraged.


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#21 Bart

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 10:14 AM

I started writing this response 3 different times and then deleting it, but everytime I come back to this thread I get annoyed and start it again.  So here I go..........

 

Although I understand the newsworthiness of Rocks post,

 

I don't.

 

What's the point of this thread? 

 

Are we playing "I've got a secret"?

 

Is the whole point of it to be able to brag about being first to break the story once there is an actual story?

 

So far here's what we know (excluding the post about Palena which everyone seems to be ignoring):  "Something is about to happen somewhere around here to someplace that some of us like.  And it's probably not good news since grieving will be involved."  

 

I guess my issue/point/complaint is: Either tell us or don't tell us!   Don't dance around in tease-ville!!

 

Thank you, I feel better now.


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#22 Bart

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 10:16 AM

PS - I doubt it's Eve because they just went through a major rennovation.  Would they actually spend all that time and money on that effort just before their lease was up?


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#23 Thomas P

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 11:35 AM

Before any more speculation gets thrown around, I can assure you all that it is a fact that members of the staff at Palena were upset the other night because they had been told the restaurant is closing. The reason they mentioned was that the rent is too damned high.

 

I was hesitant to post about this at first because there isn't official word yet, and maybe they are still trying to work something out to avoid closing or have other reasons to delay the announcement. But it is also a fact that word has spread enough that people were talking about this at Atomic Billiards, and I've seen friends talking about it on Facebook, so it didn't seem right to me to keep you all in the dark.

 

I haven't been able to get their closing off my mind since I heard about it, and I hope something can still be done to keep it from happening. I walked by on my way to work this morning and noticed they've taken down the sign advertising positions for hire at the coffee shop. :(



#24 Jonathan

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 11:49 AM

Thomas thank you for this.

It is terrible news. This is a place I spent six amazing years at...and it feels as if I'm losing a member of my own family.

Please all, come out in large numbers to give this temple of gastronomy the send off it rightly deserves.

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#25 Scott Johnston

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 03:53 PM

I agree terrible news, there is nothing on the website and they just took a reservation at the cafe for Sunday. I hope that they can work something out.


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#26 PappyVanWise

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 04:00 PM

Washington City Paper is reporting as well

http://www.washingto...faces-eviction/


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#27 DaveO

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 05:11 PM

Washington City Paper is reporting as well

http://www.washingto...faces-eviction/

 

that is a sad and cr@ppy story to read about.  It seems to be a longish term issue.  Federal Realty is a big time real estate group.  My recollection is they purchased that site from a seller who I doubt sells cheap so I suspect high rents.  

 

That is crummy.  That great chef/restaurateur should get a business assistant/partner to help him make a fantastic restaurant a financial success also imho.  The last part is difficult and heavy rents don't help if the volume of business ebbs and flows and faces consistent competition.

 

Sorry to hear about it.


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#28 bookluvingbabe

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 07:17 PM

Washington City Paper is reporting as well

http://www.washingto...faces-eviction/

 

Fuck.

 

I was at the coffee shop today--first time actually there though I had peeked in previously.  To say the mood of the staff was somber would be an understatement.  



#29 JBag57

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 09:51 PM

Yes, this does not sound like a new lease problem, but rather struggling under the current lease, and maybe with a looming rent increase, causing the decision to shut down operations.


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#30 Antonio Burrell

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 10:23 PM

I hate to dwell on sad news, and this is really sad...so I will instead share with you all a few personal memories on Palena.

 

I and probably most chefs in town will probably back me up on this, have always left Palena having eaten great food but also having had something that is very rare for a chef to experience...inspiration in another. I've always had something at Palena that has made me question my own adequacy as a chef...something that always made me strive to become better at my craft...something that I knew and still know I could never do as good, not even close. Those ethereally clear consummes, that incredible, legendary, standard setting chicken...everything at times could click to create a perfect storm and those times were even more special.

 

I've also always loved Franks dedication to silent excellence. He always seems to have flown more under the radar than he should...he's probably the quietest James Beard award winner you'll ever meet. He's always been a chef as a monk. Quietly content in his single kitchen, striving for perfection.

 

I love Palena and am sorry to see it go but I AM thankful for 3 of some of my favorite memories of all time: my 32nd birthday, the day I asked my wife to marry me, and those consummes....oh those consummes.


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#31 DC Deb

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 10:26 PM

It's a real shame.  I was fortunate to have a wonderful birthday dinner there.  What a loss.


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#32 Cook In / Dine Out

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 06:57 AM

I really really hope this isn't true, but sadly I fear it may be. Palena is my favorite restaurant in DC. I love the roast chicken, which I had fun attempting to re-create in my blog. I also love their burger, which I named my favorite in a "Burger Madness" I did a couple years ago. Everything else I've had there has been great too. Many fond memories.
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#33 smithhemb

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 08:39 AM

So sad re Palena.  

Came here after reading the WCP article, wondering if there was more/other/better news.

 

Without Dino or Palena, my guess is we won't be headed to CP for dinner anymore.


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#34 Kev29

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 09:50 AM

Without Dino or Palena, my guess is we won't be headed to CP for dinner anymore.

 

West of the Park is O-V-E-R. Smothered by its own wealth.


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#35 turbogrrl

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 10:26 AM

Maybe beyond speculation or naming names, the lesson here is that we need to patronize the places we care about. Enjoy them while we can.

 

Just like people, if you consistently tell them you care-- it doesn't mean you won't lose them suddenly at some point. Just that you'll have fewer regrets if it happens.


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#36 DonRocks

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 03:27 PM

[To Snow White and the 17 Dwarfs: My explanation can be found here. The bottom line is I didn't have permission to break this story, and I wasn't going to shove a knife in my friend's back. But I knew what was happening, and that if I said something, it would set off a chain reaction. I was right, and now you have one more chance to go. You're welcome.]


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