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Penn Quarter’s British-Inspired Scotts Restaurant and Bar Closes

Chef Will Artley says: “I was still really proud of the food we put out”

Photo: Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Scotts Restaurant & Bar debuted in Penn Quarter this past November with a mural-covered dining room, members-only drinking club, and a roving vintage trolley stocked with roasted meats. But now, eight months later, the upscale British-inspired restaurant is closed, Washington City Paper reports.

Seasoned chef Will Artley, who relocated to D.C. last year to lead the kitchen at Scotts, confirmed the news to Eater. He noted that the restaurant’s final day of service was last Tuesday, but preferred to deflect specific reasoning behind the closure to owner and British hospitality vet Simon Lowe. Eater reached out to the restaurant’s PR rep for comment.

The colorful 3,500-square-foot restaurant at 927 F Street NW received a complete renovation from its former life as dimly-lit chocolate-centric eatery Co Co. Sala, and the menu spotlighted across-the-pond comfort foods and craft cocktails. Popular dishes at the English pub “fusion” destination included Artley’s “BLT” gnocchi, with spinach potato dumplings, roasted tomato, bacon, and truffle cream, and Scotch eggs. Another splashy touch was the roaming refurbished 1920s-era English silver trolley that offered prepared cuts like prime rib, lamb, or venison.

Besides Scotts, Artley’s resume includes the White House and Grist Mill Restaurant, and the Kimpton Hotel Zamora in St. Pete Beach, Fla. where his family is based. The chef reflected on his time at Scott’s, saying: ”D.C. is a tough market. It changes every two to four years. If you don’t adjust to what the clientele wants then it’s tough but I was still really proud of the food we put out.”

Some Penn Quarter restaurants capitalize well on the area’s high foot traffic, he notes, naming NYC import The Smith as one neighbor that’s consistently busy. ”It’s baffling how half a block makes such a difference down here but it really does,” he says.

”D.C. is just a really tough business to get into — it’s a really hard market,” Artley says. “I summed it up to friends that sometimes you can have really great ingredients and employees but the recipe just doesn’t come out.”

He hasn’t been working in the restaurant since early June, having just spent a few weeks in Florida where his son was born. ”When you have a kid your focus changes a lot. My next move is going to be more calculated and making sure I have stability,” he explains, and he’s entertaining potential chef gigs in both D.C. and Florida currently.

”I just want to make sure my next spot is somewhere I can put my roots in and settle. I am taking my time talking to everyone,” Artley says.

Meanwhile, Scotts’ GM Jesse Hiney recently joined BLT Steak in the same role.

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