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Soul Food Mainstay Creme Is Closing June 18

Owner Tegist Ayalew says rising costs have convinced her to end her 20-year run as a restaurateur

A plate of fried chicken and waffles at Creme.

Creme, the U Street institution that sought a second life on the trendy 14th Street corridor, is closing June 18 after a 20-year-run in the local hospitality scene. A tipster sent Popville a photo that showed a “sale” sign posted in the front window.

“We have made great relationships, had amazing staff, worked with wonderful vendors, made great memories, and most importantly served outstanding guests,” owner Tegist Ayalew says in a statement sent to Eater. “We thank all who have supported us throughout the years, and I am looking forward to new and exciting chapter of my life.”

According to the 35-year-veteran of the hospitality world, the combination of her advancing age and rising rents made retiring a no-brainer. When she opened Creme in 1998, Ayalew’s original intent was to serve Ethiopian cuisine. Over the years that mission morphed into preparing comfort foods including fried chicken and waffles as well as Cajun-style Benedicts featuring shrimp and andouille sausage.

Ayalew relocated the neighborhood restaurant to its current location (2436 14th Street NW) in July of 2014. The building that housed her original eatery was torn down to make room for an apartment complex.