clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Amparo Mexican Pulls Out of Slow-Developing La Cosecha Market

The chef says fundraising continues to be a problem for the nomadic pop-up

A colorful tostada from Amparo Fondita
A colorful tostada from Amparo Fondita
Vina Sananikone

One of the key restaurant vendors planned for the huge new Latin American market near Union Market has backed out of the complicated complex before it could open.

Washington City Paper reported Sunday that Amparo Fondita, the contemporary, coastal Mexican kitchen from Oyamel alum Christian Irabién, recently decided to leave the market, which is still undergoing construction to accommodate the majority of its tenants.

Representatives for developer Edens did not respond to requests for comment today. Irabién sent a statement to Eater that cited fundraising problems as an obstacle during the construction phase at the market:

“Amparo was always — and will continue to be — an ambitious undertaking in what is an increasingly challenging restaurant market. Additionally, as one of many in D.C.’s immigrant community, we face unique obstacles in trying to open our own ventures. Many of us do not have access to traditional funding vehicles and rather than being able to raise money through a ‘friends-and-family’ round, we are in fact sending money home.”

According to the statement, the restaurant is still “meeting and vetting like-minded investors who share our same passion, vision and values.”

Irabién is now on the prowl for another standalone location and more investor help. He will continue operating on a pop-up basis for now. Special events and catering are part of Amparo’s business.

Amparo’s pop-up experience includes an extended run at the now-shuttered District Space in Brookland, serving fare like hand-made noodles with wild mushrooms and corn truffle, along with a ceviche-centric menu at Union Market district’s Cotton & Reed last summer. Next up: a one-day breakfast taco deal at Sun’s Cinema (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) in Mount Pleasant on Sunday, January 12.

Irabién hails from Chihuahua, Mexico, and grew up working in his grandfather’s Mexican restaurant in El Paso. In 2015 he helped open a large and stylish Mexican restaurant in Oakland called Calavera.

Squid aguachile from Amparo Fondita
Squid aguachile from Amparo Fondita
Beth Kennedy

La Cosecha is not the first potential Amparo site to fizzle out. Irabién was originally pursuing a site in Mount Pleasant, but its tiny subterranean configuration didn’t work. He expanded his search to other neighborhoods, and Union Market district’s anticipated market was the chosen location announced a year ago. At the same time, Irabién has been working as a consultant — he helped open comfort food spot La Betty in Mt. Vernon Triangle.

Union Market developer Edens debuted its 20,000-square-foot sibling market (1280 Fourth Street NE) soon after a splashy opening event in early September, but the food and drink options still remain limited.

They include centrally-located Latin bar and drinking snacks spot Serenata from the owners behind Colada Shop, and limited dinners previewing the modernist Colombian cuisine from tenant El Cielo. The Serenata space will grow with the addition of a daytime juice bar component called Zumo.

The next big arrival is the first standalone location for D.C.’s roving Peruvian Brothers, which reportedly has a grand opening scheduled for February.

At full capacity, the Latin market is expected to house 14 tenants, including a wine bar, Bolivian (vegan) fine-dining restaurant, Panamanian coffee shop, Venezuelan street foods spot, a Mexican-German bakery, and a pupuseria.

One other tenant that dropped out before the market opened was White Envelope Arepa + Ceviche Bar from Venezuelan chef Federico Tischler.

La Cosecha

1280 4th Street Northeast, , DC 20002 Visit Website

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater DC newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world