Southern-leaning American kitchen Woodward Table will close next month after seven years of business, leaving James Beard award-winning chef Jeff Buben with one restaurant in D.C.
Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema tweeted the news today, calling Woodward Table “one of my favorite downtown restaurants.” When reached by phone, Buben confirmed the news and declined to answer questions.
“Unfortunately we’ve got a few things going on with the staff, and it’s a trying time right now,” Buben told Eater, adding that he would release a statement later. Sietsema writes that Buben told him the sprawling restaurant was “never able to transcend the neighborhood” that’s frequently full of tourists trying to catch a glimpse of the White House nearby.
Sad news du jour: one of my favorite downtown restaurants, @WoodwardTableDC, is closing late August after a 7-year run. “We were never able to transcend the neighborhood,” owner Jeff Buben says of the 200-seater. “It takes a lot of resources to run a restaurant like that.”— Tom Sietsema (@tomsietsema) July 22, 2019
Buben oversees Bistros Bis, the classic French restaurant inside the George hotel in Capitol Hill. He rose to national prominence with Vidalia, the Southern restaurant that earned him a Beard for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, in 1999, along with nominations in five other years. Vidalia closed after a 23-year run in 2016 when Buben and his wife, Sallie, decided not to renew the lease.
Woodward Table opened in 2012, drawing praise from Sietsema for a generous chopped salad and wood-fired flatbreads. When he revisited the restaurant under the direction of a new chef in 2016, Sietsema called it the “cream of the crop” in Buben’s D.C. portfolio. Today it serves dishes such as Parker House rolls, she-crab soup, shrimp and grits, and crab cake BLTs.
Woodward Table also had an adjoining takeout operation, dubbed Woodward Takeout Food, or WTF. In addition to its attention-grabbing acronym, WTF was known as a smart lunch stop for fried chicken sandwiches topped with bacon and cranberry relish, “Buben’s Cuban,” and salads.