A Michelin-Starred DC Restaurant Has Temporarily Closed for the Cicada Invasion

Little Pearl has gone dark for a month on Capitol Hill, citing (in part) the swarm.

Photograph by JMPhoto64 via iStock.

Brood X cicadas, which are starting to emerge around DC, can be blamed for a lot of things: noise, public panic, threats to young trees and hungry dogs. Now, they’re taking down Michelin-starred restaurants. Rose’s Restaurant Group chef/owner Aaron Silverman says he’s closed his Capitol Hill eatery, Little Pearl, for approximately four weeks “in preparation for ‘Cicada Season’” (and also to refresh the restaurant).

“We are closing…in order to renovate, clean, reorganize, up-train, and get all our affairs in order as the pandemic caused so many disruptions,” Silverman tells Washingtonian via email. “It just so happens that this period of time falls during heavy cicada season, and roughly 80 percent of our current seating is outdoors in a heavily vegetative area (lots of trees, plants, etc) as we are in the garden of the Hill Center. This seemed like the best window to take advantage of.”

Diners with Little Pearl reservations were notified in an email—first shared by Popville—that their bookings could be refunded, rescheduled, or moved to sister restaurant Rose’s Luxury (which will continue to offer limited outdoor seating on its ostensibly less swarmed sidewalk patio and rooftop). According to the email:

“As we tried to get as creative as possible to combat them this year, we know in good faith that a single 100 decibel cicada will ruin anyone’s dinner experience, a ‘tsunami’ of them will be impossible to control.”

Silverman says he recently hired a new head chef at Little Pearl: former Pineapple and Pearls sous-chef Tyler Eaves. The restaurant is planning to offer new menus in its daytime cafe and evening full-service dining room when the place reopens in a couple of weeks. Rose’s Restaurant Group is also planning to open a brick-and-mortar space for its catering arm, Rose’s at Home, on Barracks Row in July. As for super-luxe tasting room Pineapple and Pearls, which has been closed through the pandemic, Silverman says there’s “exciting news coming soon.” 

So how does the chef, a DC-area native, actually feel about the love-them-or-hate-them cicadas?

“They’re definitely not my favorite.” 

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.