Saffron Restaurant & Lounge, a much-lauded staple of the downtown dining scene for a decade, will shutter its doors next month. Chef and owner Sameh Wadi announced Wednesday that the award-winning restaurant would serve its last meal Dec. 3 after a decision was made to not renew the lease.

Wadi was a 23-year-old prodigy when he and his older brother Saed opened Saffron (saffronmpls.com), a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern eatery in the Warehouse District.

"It's the restaurant that I've always wanted," Wadi 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?"

Saffron opened in 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 (WSK) in 2010. About three years later, a brick-and-mortar version of WSK was opened. In January, they launched Milkjam Creamery, an ice cream shop.

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 closing, Wadi said "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."

Saffron gift cards will be honored at the restaurant through Dec. 3. □