Just two and half months after debuting to much fanfare, “Top Chef” alumnus Kwame Onwuachi’s restaurant, The Shaw Bijou, has already served its last meal.
Washingtonian broke the news on Sunday, confirming the closure news via co-owner Kelly Gorsuch.
“It just became too costly with labor and the quality of the ingredients, and unfortunately, if you can’t cut those two things down, it’s usually the end of business,” Gorsuch told the media outlet.
The 20-person staff also found out about the restaurant’s sudden demise on Sunday.
Barman Zac Hoffman, who was one of the first employees tapped by Onwuachi two and a half years ago, told Eater that “every single person” at The Shaw Bijou was among the “most qualified” he’s ever worked with and “one hundred and ten percent dedicated—that should not be overlooked.”
When The Shaw Bijou first opened in early November, a $185-per-person tasting menu was the starting price, not including drink pairings. Dinner for two could stretch close to $1,000 at a restaurant from a chef opening his first place in D.C. Soon after, it received a tepid preview from The Washington Post.
The closure comes just two weeks after the spot said it would dramatically dial back its concept by slashing both prices and the course count in half, offering a seven-course menu, including a welcome cocktail, for $95.
Despite the shutter saying otherwise, places like Aaron Silverman’s Pineapple & Pearls have proven D.C. is open to shelling out big bucks for tasting menus.
Eater reached out to the restaurant’s team for comment but has not yet heard back.
In its short lifespan, The Shaw Bijou made concessions to appeal to a larger dining base, including nixing its plans for a members-only bar, and opening the bar to walk-ins (with an a la carte menu). Hoffman says the bar and dining areas “have been packed” since prices improved.
It’s unclear what will happen to the space and its impressive pieces inside. The restaurant houses handcrafted wood furniture, limestone lamps, and Icelandic sheepskin chairs from artist Caleb Woodward.
“The closure is incredibly saddening, most especially for the owners and staff who worked so hard and gave so much for the concept. Nothing is more important than that,” says Woodward. “While I'm sad the venue for my work is gone...it’s really a trivial concern compared to all those talented young people that were the Shaw Bijou.”