Chef Tim Ma’s first restaurant in D.C. proper debuted in 2016 at 1924 8th Street NW, going heavy on Asian flavors fused with French techniques, with a few favorite dishes from his former Virginia restaurants. Neighborhood regulars were fans of his hit scallops with coconut risotto, duck, and crème fraîche wings.
In a late Friday phone call with Eater, Ma called the unavoidable closure “a big sigh of relief — with a heavy heart, of course. But you have to close some doors for others to open.”
In an interview with Washingtonian, Ma cited inconsistent traffic and high operational costs inside its upscale Shay development as reasoning for the closure. Its last day of service is scheduled for Thursday, April 18.
“I held out as long as I could but it’s time,” he tells Washingtonian. “The neighborhood just isn’t there yet. I think it will be.”
Beer-friendly grocer Glen’s Garden Market called it quits next door last year, as did a flurry of retail stores. Eater reached out to JBG’s leasing rep for further comment. Ma tells Eater he’s not aware of any future plans for the space.
The block still holds promising signs of new life. Budding Union Kitchen Grocery recently replaced Glen’s, and homegrown sweets shop Nicecream debuted its fourth location there last fall. Duke’s Grocery founder Daniel Kramer is on track to open D.C.’s first traditional Korean barbecue restaurant inside the Shay this year.
Kyirisan’s pending closure caps off a wild week in D.C. restaurant closure news, with downtown’s Honeysuckle and Pennsylvania 6 both quietly shuttering last weekend after just a few years in business.
Ma, an engineer-turned-chef, is now focusing all his attention on downtown’s months-old Eaton Workshop hotel and its critically acclaimed and star dining attraction American Son. He also mans food and beverage operations for its rooftop Wild Days bar and other in-house ventures across the progressive 209-room hotel.
He says the back-and-forth management between Kyirisan and American Son got “pretty daunting,” adding “I’ve always balanced two to three projects and having one might be a nice relief.”
This year marks a decade since Ma opened his first restaurant, Maple Ave in Vienna, soon after graduating culinary school in New York. He also started Vienna’s sandwich spot Chase the Submarine and Arlington’s American eatery Water & Wall, but both closed.
“I’m going to take a small break from running my own restaurant group. Getting that in the past allows me to spring forward,” he says.
He intentionally notified his staff earlier this week so they wouldn’t be “caught by surprise” with an article announcing Kyirisan’s upcoming demise.
“I made a strong point to give it the respect I’d want and not have employees show up with locked doors,” he says.
He tells Eater he’s going to be at Kyirisan almost every night until the end, manning the stoves and saying goodbye to regulars.
“I hope to see familiar faces,” he says.
Kyirisan is one of 39 area restaurants on Michelin’s 2019 Bib Gourmand list of more affordable restaurants “that offer excellent food at a reasonable price.” It’ll operate as usual, including brunch this weekend, until its final dinner service on Thursday, April 18. None of Kyirisan’s dishes will live on at his remaining hotel project, he notes.
“I want those things to go to rest with Kyirisan. You’re not going to see the wings next Friday at American Son,” he says.
- Chef Tim Ma Is Closing Kyirisan in Shaw [EDC]
- Inside Kyirisan, Tim Ma’s New Restaurant in Shaw [EDC]
- Budding Union Kitchen Grocery Is Replacing Recently Closed Glen’s in Shaw [EDC]
- Raw Bar Pennsylvania 6 Allegedly Blindsides Staff With Sudden Closure [EDC]
- Honeysuckle Closes, Depleting Downtown of Experimental Southern-Nordic Cooking [EDC]
- American Son should make this chef’s parents proud [WaPo]