Saffron Restaurant & Lounge, a lauded staple of downtown for a decade, will shutter its doors next month.
Chef and owner Sameh Wadi announced on Wednesday that the award-winning restaurant would serve its last meal on Dec. 3 after making the decision not to renew the lease.
The closing marks the end of an era.
Wadi was a 23-year-old prodigy when he and his older brother Saed opened Saffron, a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern eatery nestled between the North Loop and the Warehouse District.
“It’s the restaurant that I’ve always wanted,” he said. “It was a tough decision not to renew the lease. But that’s what it came down to, making that call. Do we want to stay another 10 years, or not?”
They chose the latter.
Saffron opened in the winter of 2007 to a flurry of critical acclaim, and Wadi quickly became a perennial fixture on the James Beard awards’ semifinalist lists. The brothers launched one of the city’s first food trucks, World Street Kitchen, in 2010. Nearly three years later, a brick-and-mortar version of WSK opened. In January, they launched Milkjam Creamery, an ice cream shop next door to WSK.
Those holding Saffron gift cards, listen up: they’ll be honored through Dec. 3, and that’s it. Different ownership structures preclude Saffron gift cards from being accepted at World Street Kitchen and Milkjam Creamery.
Wadi said that the restaurant employs about 25 people.
“If anyone is looking for a talented and dedicated staff, reach out to me,” he said. “I truly have some of the best of the best working on our team right now. I’m so proud of them.”
In an Instagram post announcing the news on Wednesday, Wadi recounted the eve of his first project.
“I vividly remember the day, ten years ago, that Saed and I signed the lease on 123 N. 3rd street, the future home of Saffron,” he wrote. “I recall felling excited dazed, scared and full of hope …Saffron quickly became home. During this time we’ve accomplished everything we set out to do Our hope is that we brought joy to the people that joined us during these magnificent years.”
Wadi also made it clear there could be more from him on the horizon.
“In terms of the future,” he wrote, “we are not done dreaming.”