West Philadelphia BYOB destination Marigold Kitchen, beset by the financial problems stemming from the recent failure of its partners' TALK bistro in Center City, will close for good on Jan. 31, said Andrew Kochan, who owns the restaurant with chef Tim Lanza.
The restaurant, set in a century-old Victorian house at 45th Street and Larchwood Avenue, was hitting its stride in its avant-garde food served as five- and 11-course tasting menus, Kochan said, citing chef Eric Leveillee and sous chefs Kieran O’Sullivan and Kevin McWilliams. “They are killing it,” he said.
It also is an abject lesson in the frail economics of small BYOB restaurants, which don’t have the alcohol sales to prop up their bottom line. They tend to feel every bump in the road, including rising food and labor costs. In Marigold’s case, “TALK presented us financial implications," Kochan said.
TALK, their ambitious bar-restaurant with a moody, noir-ish interior, opened in the height of the slow summer season at 2121 Walnut St. after substantial delays. It was met with tepid reviews and closed in November.
Marigold Kitchen’s impending closing seems to have caught staff by surprise. As word spread Saturday through the rumor mill and through social media, Leveillee said he might have several options already. With the current restaurant boom, good employees are in demand.
Meanwhile, patrons have but a few days to present gift certificates. Kochan said he would try to make good on them. He said the restaurant’s phone number (215-222-3699) would remain operational shortly after the closing, and the email (email@example.com) will remain active.
There’s been a Marigold restaurant on the site since the 1930s, when it was known as Marigold Tea Room. In 1959, the Rastelli family of Havertown bought it. Bette and Matthew Rastelli ran it for decades. (Their son John owns the building now.) In the late ’90s, Bette began leasing Marigold and it became Marigold Dining Room. Inquirer archives say it then was operated as a Vietnamese and then a comfort-food specialist.
In 2004, Marigold Kitchen was founded by chef Steve Cook, who a year later had the good sense to hire his chef and future business partner, Michael Solomonov. At the opening of their Zahav in 2008, they handed it off to sous chef Erin O’Shea, who turned the menu Southern.
A year later, Cook and Solomonov sold Marigold and moved O’Shea to Percy Street, their barbecue restaurant then on South Street.
Chef Robert Halpern took over Marigold in 2009, launching the ambitious fixed-price tasting menus. In 2014, Halpern’s sous chefs Tim Lanza, Andrew Kochan, and Keith Krajewski, took over. Krajewski is now at Middle Child.
Rastelli, the building owner, did not return a message seeking comment.