When it was announced last Fall that celebrity polymath/chef David Chang was committed to opening an outpost of his Momofuku Noodle Bar concept in the upcoming Vancouver House development, there was much rejoicing. But what happens now with the Covid-19 pandemic strangling the hospitality industry?
I would not have been shocked to learn that David Chang, founder of over a dozen restaurants around the world, including three in Toronto (Milk Bar, Kojin, Noodle Bar), had somehow figured out how to retreat from out west to retool/rebuild his empire back east. It would have been a bummer for our food scene, which is already reeling, but we would have totally understood. The times suck. We know. Namaste.
Just yesterday he let it be known that he was closing two restaurants (Nishi in New York City and CCDC in Washington, DC) and moving a third (Ssäm, also in NYC). It was a long and sincere statement, but buried in it was this particularly uplifting passage (italics mine):
We are not giving up on growth. We have faith in the future of our industry and believe in creating more opportunities for our employees. That said, growth needs to be carried out sustainably. We’ve made the hard decisions with this in mind: we had no plans to open another restaurant on the East Coast outside of New York. And with New York as the epicenter of this crisis, we need to consolidate our resources there to strengthen our most stable restaurants.
As we streamline our businesses on the East Coast, we are excited to continue working with partners on the West Coast and Canada to create growth opportunities for the teams we have built there.
We will also continue to develop more Noodle Bars. As our concept most fit for standardization, we believe Noodle Bar has the ability to succeed in a world where more stringent procedures are the norm. We are looking forward to our next location in Vancouver.
So hang in there, awaiting further noodles.
UPDATE: Plans for a Vancouver Momofuku location have been shelved.