In late 2017, Julep began popping up on best restaurant lists all over town, including 5280’s in 2018 and 2019, wooing food writers with sophisticated Southern specialties like deviled escargot grits, oyster and pork sausage, and rutabaga tarte tatin. Three years later, Julep is making headlines for a sad reason: On November 18, husband-and-wife owners Kyle and Katy Foster announced the closure of their RiNo restaurant.
While chef Kyle tempered his menu from the original launch—those deviled escargot grits morphed into more traditional deviled eggs, for example—its strong Southern roots remained. “People didn’t totally get the sophisticated Southern,” Katy says. Regardless, Southern spirit always shone through in Julep’s flaky buttermilk biscuits, daily butcher’s choice boucherie board, and spot-on proteins that reflected Kyle’s tenures at meat-forward Colt & Gray and Rebel Restaurant.
“We couldn’t continue to put ourselves in debt,” Katy says of the decision to close, effective last Wednesday. The Fosters had already decided to shutter the restaurant at the end of the year because COVID-related restrictions and rent had taken a toll, but the dine-in closures last week accelerated the end date. “We were hoping to let the chefs do fun stuff over the next month while we button it up, but with the announcement [of dine-in closures], it didn’t make sense to do that.”
Their landlord changed the terms of the rent agreement, which the Fosters understood—but it also meant the business could be booted out at any time. “The deal he gave us didn’t set us up for the future,” Katy says. “We ended on good terms. We just made the decision that to survive long-term, we can’t be in this space under these conditions.”
Luckily, Katy owns the building where her cooking school, Stir, is located, which means Julep—and lunchtime po’boy operation, Pirate Alley—will likely pop up in the future. The couple will also offer master-level cooking classes with Kyle at Stir, including more comprehensive experiences like trout fishing off-site in the morning and returning to the school to cook the catch. Fans of Julep’s famous fried bird are also in luck: The restaurant will accept pre-orders for pick-up fried chicken dinners starting the week after Thanksgiving, continuing through Christmas.
“We will be back,” Katy says. “We’re trying to make smart business decisions so we can be here in the future.”
Last week’s announcement of new dine-in restrictions brought about other, hopefully temporary closures. Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, Bacon Social House, Brass Tacks, Izakaya Den, Ototo, Cholon Downtown, Rita’s Law, and Bellota all announced they were closing their kitchens until restrictions are eased.