Celebrity chef David Chang has officially shuttered Momofuku CCDC after five years—the Vienna native’s only full-service restaurant in the area. The glassy downtown eatery has been temporarily closed since the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March, but CEO Marguerite Zabar Mariscal announced today that the company will permanently lock the doors there and at Nishi in New York.
“All restaurants operate on razor-thin margins, but some are thinner than others. In the case of Nishi and CCDC, the margins were particularly challenging,” Mariscal writes in an open letter to the company posted on Momofuku’s website. “Nishi and CCDC underwent many iterations—renovations, menu overhauls, service changes—on the path to profitability. But as we looked at new realities, neither restaurant had enough cushion to sustain the shock of this crisis. We investigated every scenario to make the math work—negotiating with our landlords, changing the service model, and more—but with increased investments in health and safety, huge reopening expenses, and the lack of rent relief, the financial picture of these wholly-owned restaurants no longer made sense.”
A representative for Momofuku says there are no updates on the fate of Momofuku’s fast-casual chicken chain, Fuku, which operates concessions in Capital One Arena and Audi Field, or CityCenterDC’s adjoining (but separately owned) Milk Bar.
As many restaurants turned to takeout and delivery in the pandemic, Momofuku bucked the growing trend and put its bicoastal empire on pause. Chang and Mariscal discussed this decision, as well as the one to permanently close, in a podcast today. Mariscal notes in her letter, “I simply could not stomach the idea of someone getting sick from coming to work. The investments we need to make to safely resume operations—from developing new, best-in-class systems to providing personal protective equipment—are significant.”
When Momofuku CCDC debuted in 2015 it was a hugely anticipated restaurant and one of the hottest tables in town. Two years ago Chang brought on Maryland native Tae Strain to “destroy” the core menu of ramen and buns and breathe new life into the restaurant.