Chef Tim Ma is serving his last crème fraîche wings at Kyirisan as the Shaw restaurant prepares to close on Thursday, April 18. An eviction lawsuit from landlord JBG shows that the modern French-Chinese restaurant owes $111, 574 in unpaid rent and other fees dating from September of last year to March. Ma declined to comment on the lawsuit but spoke to Washingtonian about the closure.
Kyirisan marks the final independent restaurant for Ma, who says he’s focusing on downtown’s new Eaton Workshop hotel, where he helms the main dining venue, American Son, and is the food consultant for Wild Days rooftop bar and other in-house operations.
“It’s run its course,” says Ma. “It’s with a heavy heart and big sigh of relief that I’m announcing the closing.”
It’s been a decade of highs and lows for for the 41 year-old engineer-turned-chef, who opened his first restaurant, Maple Ave, in Vienna in 2009—just a year after graduating from culinary school in New York. (He since sold the eatery, which remains open under new ownership.) In the years that followed he also sold Chase the Submarine sandwich shop in Vienna and closed his ambitious new American restaurant, Water & Wall, in Arlington. It was the shutter of the latter in 2017 and the debt that ensued that he says ultimately “decimated” his restaurant group.
Ma also points to the uneven traffic and high costs of operating in The Shay, the currently controversial “North End Shaw” development where Kyirisan was one of the first restaurants to open in 2016. The upscale project from JBG has already experienced over a half-dozen closures ranging from retail chains like Kit and Ace to food purveyors like Glen’s Garden Market.
“There’s no secret that there’s something wrong,” says Ma. “I held out as long as I could but its time. The neighborhood just isn’t there yet. I think it will be. There are all kinds of things that are great about it. I just think you need more staying power than a small guy like me.”
Ma says he isn’t taking any of the dishes he’s become known for—those wings, scallops with coconut risotto—with him. He’ll cook the final Sunday brunch at Kyirisan this weekend and final dinner next Thursday.
*This post has been updated with new information about the lawsuit.