Umami in Chagrin Falls to Close After 12 Years Because of Covid

click to enlarge PHOTO BY EMANUEL WALLACE
Photo by Emanuel Wallace
In an emotional message to its devoted guests, the staff behind Umami announced that it would be closing its doors for the foreseeable future because of Covid. The beloved Chagrin Falls eatery that specialized in Asian-influenced seafood opened its doors 12 years ago. The restaurant's small footprint, sporting a dining room with just 10 tables, proved to be too small to survive social distancing.

Here's the full message:

**********

This isn't goodbye forever; it's just goodbye for now...

12 years ago, Jonathan Westrich decided that Chagrin Falls needed an intimate, Asian-inspired restaurant, where friends could gather to eat creative dishes that were made with the absolute best quality ingredients available, from the shores of Hawaii to farms right down the street.

He gathered an all-star team to make his vision a reality. Chef Matt Anderson and General Manager Nikki Williams created unique dishes and a level of atmosphere and service that was unrivaled. A year later, Mike Mendlovic joined the team and the four of them brought Umami to the forefront of dining in Northeast Ohio. With Chef Matt's departure, Chef Andrew Nichols joined the kitchen, putting his own unique spin on the menu, to rave reviews and a consistently packed dining room.

Along the way, Umami has gathered accolades such as the Best 100 Restaurants in America, 40 Essential Cleveland Restaurants, 25 Sexiest Restaurants in Cleveland, 10 Best Sushi Restaurants In & Around Cleveland, and 25 Hard-to-Get Cleveland Restaurant Tables That Are Totally Worth It.

It's that last one that creates the problem we currently find out ourselves in. When COVID first struck, we quickly pivoted to a carry-out model. This worked great, with our amazing customers supporting us at levels that were able to keep us open. As the weather turned nicer, patio's opened, and eventually dining rooms at reduced capacity, our carry out business understandably plummeted. One of the reasons we were on the list of the 25 hardest to get tables is because we only have 10 of those tables in our tiny dining room. It is just not possible to operate at a reduced capacity. Our "patio," which consists of 2 tables in front of our restaurant is not allowed to open due to social distancing rules (the sidewalk is not wide enough to ensure 6 feet of space when pedestrians walk by). In addition, the quality of food we serve comes from all over the country, often being shipped overnight. Our small purveyors are hurting, and therefore have increased their prices or simply stopped selling certain items.

All of this makes it impossible for us to carry on in this current environment, and has led to the incredibly difficult decision to close our doors for the time being. How long with that be? We're not sure yet. We know that we cannot sustain Umami at reduced capacity for dine-in service, so we will need to discern the level of desire to continue offering only carry-out until we are allowed to open the dining room once again.

We are going to continue to explore our options and keep an eye on the ever-changing safety protocols and guidelines to see when, how, or if we can reopen in order to bring the same level of unique food and atmosphere to our amazing friends and guests.

Thank you so much for your continued support over the previous 12 years. We sincerely hope that the circumstances will allow us to once again welcome you and your friends into the special world of Umami in the future. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and keep loving life!

Sincerely,
Nikki, Mike, Andrew, Jonathan, and the entire Umami crew

About The Author

Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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