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A Brief History of the Brief Life of America Eats Tavern

Photo: R. Lopez

It seems like just yesterday that José Andrés unveiled America Eats Tavern, but in reality it was just yesterday that José Andrés closed the America-themed restaurant. The yearlong "pop-up" — which initially debuted with a six-month projected lifespan — closed its doors rather quietly last night, serving a special menu of favorite dishes from its brief year in existence. Following the final service, the Think Food Group celebrated America Eats with a party for staff and family and today offers thanks to supporters via Twitter, promising updates on the Americana concept in the vague future.

So now that the yearlong adventure has ended, it's time to take a look back on the year that was for José Andrés and his culinary zip through history, America Eats Tavern.

5/16/2011: José Andrés announces his plans to close Cafe Atlantico and replace it with a six-month pop-up restaurant named America Eats Tavern, a project in conjunction with the National Archives exhibit, "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government's Effect on the American Diet."

5/18/2011: It is first revealed the crucial role that ketchup and its history would play in America Eats Tavern's development.

7/4/2011: America Eats Tavern opens to the public on the Fourth of July, complete with a chandelier of memories, history lessons on the menu and Andrés' spin on American classics.

7/6/2011: The speculation begins as to what will happen to Minibar once America Eats Tavern shutters.

7/14/2011: Former City Paper food editor Chris Shott files a tough early review for America Eats Tavern, which he then noted featured an oyster dish that "seems better suited for Denny’s."

7/19/2011: Washingtonian critic Todd Kliman shares some thoughts on the newly opened restaurant in his weekly online chat, revealing some incredulity regarding the prices, portion sizes and a key lime pie that totally did not look like a key lime pie.

7/20/2011: Head chef Richard Brandenburg announces he'll be parting ways with the Think Food Group as planned prior to America Eats' opening. Destination: director of culinary strategy for Edens & Avant, the company behind the Union Market development.

8/2/2011: The Think Food Group moves Paul Yeck from Jaleo Bethesda to helm the kitchen at America Eats Tavern.

9/1/2011: Minibar reopens inside America Eats Tavern after having temporarily shuttered in June to make way for the revamped restaurant.

9/16/2011: Tom Sietsema officially deems America Eats Tavern a 2.5-star restaurant with a "masterful take on oysters Rockefeller."

10/14/2011: City Paper's Chris Shott takes on America Eats once again, this time boldly declaring that housemade ketchup sucks — in particular the blueberry variety at America Eats.

11/4/2011: Todd Kliman files his official review of America Eats Tavern, awarding it two stars and expressing some disappointment.

11/9/2011: What was meant to be a six-month pop-up officially extends to a year-long project on this date with the announcement of an updated shutter date of July 4, 2012.

1/25/2012: The Downtown DC Business Improvement District awards the ThinkFoodGroup and National Archives a 2011 Momentum Award for their collaboration on America Eats.

6/18/2012: Skipping ahead half a lifespan, José Andrés reconfirms the intended shutter date.

6/25/2012: Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern gets in under the wire with a visit to America Eats Tavern while shooting in DC. He tried broiled oysters, the PBJ and foie sandwich and more.

7/2/2012: The restaurant launches a special farewell menu to take it through its last days in Penn Quarter, comprising "classic dishes from the last year."

7/4/2012: America Eats Tavern closes on a quiet note, serving its special menu and hosting a celebration after final service with Think Food Group staff and family members. As the restaurant group's CEO Rob Wilder tweeted, "@AmericaEatsTvrn got royal July 4 send off last night. Look for updates on next steps for this fantastic @chefjoseandres American concept!"

America Eats Tavern

1700 Tysons Blvd, McLean, VA 22102