A short eight months after a hype-and-ball-filled entrance to Penn Quarter, Meatballs has closed shrouded in as much weirdness as ever when it comes to its ownership — and, more specifically, Michel Richard's involvement in the whole project. The City Paper broke the news of Meatballs' shutter over the weekend and talked to a rep for Richard, who claimed that "Michel is not involved with it. He was only ever minimally involved."
Oh really? So who was involved, then? Before the spot even opened, Richard talked to Eater about the meatballs they'd be offering and how the space was supposed to be outfitted with his cookbooks and line of cookware, though he noted that it was really more of a potential franchise operation, calling it, "A restaurant without a chef. I even pushed myself out. No job for Michel Richard."
Once it was revealed that BGR: The Burger Joint's Mark Bucher was involved in the project, Bucher insisted that he had "no official involvement" in the project. According to Bucher at the time, the financial backer was a company called Food Research Corporation and Michel Richard was the front man. Meanwhile, he said, he was simply involved to help out his old friend Michel. Then, of course, when the early word and all the reviews comparing Meatballs to airline catering began to roll in, Richard seemed to distance himself even further from the restaurant, suggesting that he pretty much just sold the company a meatball recipe.
Eater has reached out to all three parties who may or may not have ever actually been involved in the restaurant for comment about its shutter and will keep you posted.