Prolific D.C. restaurateur Hakan Ilhan just pulled the plug on his 6-year-old Italian eatery Alba Osteria, citing the inability to strike a rent deal with the landlord as reason for its demise.
“We came to a mutual financial agreement with the landlord to close Alba,” he told Eater, via an email on Tuesday. “We are focussing on the deals that reflect the current times of our industry with better terms that takes into account of the raising operational costs in the hospitality industry today.”
The food at the restaurant at 425 Eye Street NW stemmed from the Piedmont town of Alba, drawing regulars for its fresh pastas, cheap happy hour, antipasti, and pizzas cooked in a wood-burning oven. Centrolina chef and James Beard Foundation Award finalist Amy Brandwein was its opening chef de cuisine back in late 2013.
Instant Italian competition arrived across the street this month with the opening of chef Michael White’s Nicoletta Italian Kitchen at the base of the DC Bar’s new headquarters.
Ilhan tells Eater he proposed to flip Alba into a Mexican restaurant, “but we could not come to an agreement on rent.”
The space, lined with fiery orange accents, housed vintage windows and wood paneling dating back to the early 1900s that were salvaged from the old American Crayon Company factory in Sandusky, Ohio.
He currently has two major hospitality projects in motion: a multi-million dollar conversion of Morton’s The Steakhouse in Georgetown into French brasserie Liberté, as well as an American bistro nearby in the West End that’ll showcase best sellers across his portfolio.
The first is expected to arrive by late summer, and the second is shooting for an early 2020 opening.
Ilhan adds that he is “working on couple of deals that are more reflective of the times in our industry.” That includes current conversations with landlords for two additional locations.
“One is pretty advanced and will announce within couple of weeks,” he says.