Capitol Hill has seen a surge of new restaurants over the last few years. Manhattan on 12th came early in that surge and established itself as a welcoming spot for craft cocktails, steaks and southern-inspired fare. Alas, it was announced yesterday that the business will have its final day on this Sunday, November 22.
I spoke with the owner, who began as a silent partner with Olsen & Pardo, but assumed full ownership after both that business relationship dissolved along with the personal relationship with her then partner. From the beginning, there was talk about giving up the business entirely, but the dedication and familial sense of the staff that had helped get the restaurant running convinced the owner to keep it going, though she had started her own business simultaneously.
Speaking by phone this morning, she said, “Manhattan is one of those rare examples where the restaurant’s success can be entirely attributed to the staff. The leadership and management has been hard to maintain, but the staff—from the front of the house to the kitchen—have been amazing from the start.”
So why quit now? “The lease is coming up for a renew,” explains the owner, “and for myself I had to make a decision. I never intended to be a restaurateur, and I just don’t have the bandwidth to be at the helm of two completely different businesses at once. It’s an emotional decision for me, because the staff are so great. They have been supportive of me even this decision to close. There is a sense of family, and I hope that lasts even after the doors close.”
Every year on Thanksgiving, the restaurant has held a big employee “family” dinner in the evening. This year, they’ll be doing it a little early, on its closing day with both former and present staff members. Come by and have a drink before then and say farewell to the iconic ram sculpture by Peter Gronquist hanging over the bar. (I hope that it, like the staff, finds a good home, too!)