3529 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Sadly, last week’s scuttlebutt about a Saturday closing for Palena was accurate. From a press release:
“After a very long and notable run in the Cleveland Park, the venerable Palena Restaurant closed this past Saturday. James Beard award winning Chef Frank Ruta opened Palena in 2000 to much fanfare and critical acclaim. The restaurant expanded and created a market concept for the vacated Magruder’s grocery next door in 2011, at which time it also relocated its more casual café. This year it added a coffee shop featuring its pastries. Not able to fully utilize and attain the benefits of the expansion space as intended, Palena and its Landlord, Federal Realty Trust, endeavored to reach an accord but were unable to come to terms, contributing to the decision to close.
The tight knit group of talented chefs, managers and servers that surround Ruta at Palena, and the many disciples of Chef Ruta cooking in kitchens throughout the region, celebrate their success, appreciate the devotion of their patrons and welcome the future. A note from Ruta to customers reads:
Palena will be closing its doors this weekend after 13 years. We have had a great run serving the Cleveland Park neighborhood and the Washington, DC area and are sincerely grateful to the many that have supported us.
While we are proud of the high degree of critical success Palena has achieved over the years, we take even greater joy in your patronage and that we have been able to share life’s special moments with you. Cooking is what I love, and hopefully I will find a way to serve you at another venue in the future.
I want to especially thank my remarkable and loyal staff who has given Palena its special ambiance, and my equally loyal pool of investors who have been steadfast through thick and thin. Without either, Palena could not have been possible.
And finally, a heartfelt “thank you” to all who have dined with us over the years.
Working with Federal Realty to facilitate a smooth transition, Chef Ruta doesn’t rule out a return to the neighborhood. Speaking from his kitchen in Cleveland Park, Ruta says, “I’m going to miss this place.”
I stopped by on Sunday and it was like a wake. People just kept going up to the doors and reading the note and shaking their heads.