Nora Pouillon hasn’t found a buyer for Restaurant Nora yet, but she says that no matter what, the dining room will close June 30.
The 38 year-old American restaurant, which pulled off farm-to-table cooking decades before it became trendy and marketable, is a unique property—and a potentially tough sell—because Pouillon is also including the building it’s housed in. It’s on the market for $7 million ($5 million for the building, $1 million for the business—and add another $1 million if the buyer wants to keep the Nora name). That’s too steep a price tag for many chefs, who are used to leasing. José Andrés said no, as did the owners of Vedge, the ambitious vegan restaurant in Philadelphia. Nora alum Haidar Karoum “didn’t want to do any white tablecloth restaurants,” according to Pouillon. But for the right buyer, it’s the opportunity to take over a historic building (it was built as a grocery store at the turn of the 20th century) that holds a rare commercial license in the residential Kalorama neighborhood. Plus, she’ll throw in the furniture, pots and pans, and silverware, too.
As for Pouillon? She’s slated to receive a lifetime achievement award from the James Beard Foundation on May 1st. She’d also like to help restaurateurs and chefs figure out how to operate with organic and sustainable ingredients. In her perfect world, she’d consult on something like an organic fast-food project. But it’s time to quit the grueling noon-to-9 PM schedule the 73 year-old chef has kept up for over three decades: “I don’t want to be in the restaurant when I’m half deaf and half blind—you want to go out with everything still great.”