UPDATE (11/24/14, 1:30 p.m.): After multiple calls and unanswered messages last evening and this morning, Eater Houston was finally able to reach someone closely involved with Fish & the Knife. We were told by a manager — who didn't want to be identified — that the restaurant is indeed closing but only temporarily (as CultureMap noted after Eater's initial post). While Fish & the Knife retools its concept, it will remain open during the weekends for club promoters to host parties — partly because it's the restaurant's biggest source of revenue. Reservations for holiday parties that were to be held during the first week of December were canceled. A full statement with detailed information on the rebranding will be available tomorrow.
Mired in controversy since 2010, it's not a far stretch to say that's it's been a rocky three years for the Woodlake/Briar Meadow neighborhood restaurant Fish & the Knife.
Questions surrounded the project as construction halted several times through the course of the three-year build-out — which was supposedly due to the accommodation of New York-based architect and interior designer, Tony Chi who wasn't involved at all. Shortly after opening in February, the restaurant was declared a nuisance by neighbors as the sushi spot turned into a nightclub in the evenings. Complaints of party goers blocking driveways trash left on front lawns didn't concern the restaurant's co-owner who told local news station KPRC, "ultimately the parking spillover wasn't his problem."
Parking spillover and former construction woes will not be of Fish & the Knife's concern come December 1. The restaurant is expected to close its doors for good at the end of this month. A review on Yelp alerted to Fish & the Knife's impending departure last evening.
"I received a text message Friday night in regards to a holiday party I planned for Child Advocates on December 2... it had to be canceled," said Monica Hayman, the Yelp reviewer who wrote about the closure on the website. After reaching out to her regarding Fish & the Knife shutting its doors, she described the rest of the exchange between her and a manager. The manager informed her the cancellation was due to the restaurant closing. Hayman was told the sushi spot would close at the end of November, "so I hurried and found a new location yesterday for my event."
When asked if there was a cause given for the closure, Hayman said the manager cited financial challenges. Managers for Fish & the Knife weren't available for comment.
Financial challenges seems plausible. An untold amount of money went into the stunning 13,000 square-feet space (which was recently recognized as being a stone cold stunner for this year's Eater Awards) and it's likely bringing in celebrated New Orleans chef Bob Iacovone wasn't cheap.
Despite Iacovone's presence, dining rooms never filled to near capacity for lunch or dinner. Happy hour crowds filled the bar in the evenings, but the weekends were the biggest draw.
Fish & the Knife transformed itself into a club on the weekends, seeing big crowds on Friday evenings. Shortly after the restaurant opened, a party promoted as Forge Fridays brought in hundreds of club goers who also dined while drinking. This weekend saw another full house. Still, a few nights out of the week isn't enough to sustain a restaurant, neither is a location away from the intended high-dollar crowd Fish & the Knife was hoping to bring in.