After six years, award-winning chef Edouardo Jordan will permanently close his original Ravenna restaurant, Salare, on July 3. Jordan made the announcement on Instagram, expressing appreciation for the enormously successful run, which included a James Beard Award win and numerous critical raves, but noting that the challenges of the pandemic over the past year eventually led to the difficult decision. “We did everything possible to overcome the hurdles, but I felt like I had lost my own voice for a moment,” he wrote. “Once the pandemic hit I knew that something huge had to happen in order for Salare to survive.” The chef’s other acclaimed restaurant in the neighborhood, JuneBaby, will remain open.
Florida native Jordan opened Salare in June of 2015 after apprenticeships at esteemed restaurants French Laundry and Per Se, along with a string of high-profile kitchen assignments in Seattle, including Matt Dillon’s Bar Sajor. The Ravenna restaurant mixed techniques from the chef’s fine dining training, as well as influences from West Africa and the cuisine of the South, which Jordan treasured from his childhood. The skill and innovation that went into his meticulously prepared dishes not only quickly won over local critics, but also put the rising star chef on the national map.
“Salare is my baby, yet the mother, where I could flex my muscles as a Chef, and where I dodged being typecast as a “Black chef” who only cooked Soul Food,” Jordan wrote on Instagram in announcing the closure.
The excitement surrounding Salare also helped transform the stretch along 65th Avenue NE in Ravenna into a culinary destination in its own right, and opened even more doors for Jordan. In 2017, two years after he opened Salare, the chef debuted his mega popular restaurant JuneBaby down the block, in which he put his own spin on Southern comfort dishes, including a much sought-after fried chicken dinner on Sundays. Jordan took home two James Beard Awards in 2018: one for his work at Salare and one for Best New Restaurant (JuneBaby).
But the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic took their toll, despite the chef’s best efforts to adjust. Back in March 2020, when indoor dining was completely shut down, Jordan turned Salare into a community kitchen as part of the Restaurant Workers Relief Program, serving free to-go meals for restaurant workers who had been laid off or experienced a significant reduction in hours. He quickly established robust takeout programs at both his Ravenna restaurants, too. In keeping with his penchant for culinary storytelling, the takeout meals at Salare traced the history and influences of African cuisine around the world, complete with Spotify playlists.
Salare’s takeout offerings will continue for the next few weeks, until the restaurant shuts down for good. But its sibling has big plans for the summer. A day before announcing the Salare closure news, Jordan said that JuneBaby would reopen for indoor dining June 16, just a couple of weeks before the Washington state is due to lift all capacity restrictions on restaurants.
Eater Seattle reached out to Jordan for further comment, and will update this post as more info comes in.