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The 14th Street NW location of Kapnos served its last spit-roasted lamb on Dec. 26, according to partner George Pagonis. It’s the most recent Mike Isabella Concepts closure stemming from the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing that set the company’s expiration date for Dec. 27. Kapnos’ sister restaurants in Arlington, College Park, and Bethesda are also closed. (Like Taylor Gourmet, the Kapnos Taverna in Terminal C of National Airport remains open.)
“It’s been five-and-a-half great years that we worked hard to keep the Kapnos brand associated with good food,” Pagonis says. “Right now I’m starting my own company and I’m actively seeking the old Kapnos locations and speaking with landlords to reopen them up under a new name.”
The $40 million restaurant empire began to crumble in March, after former employee Chloe Caras filed a lawsuit alleging “extraordinary sexual harassment” that focused primarily on disgraced Top Chef Mike Isabella‘s actions, but also named George Pagonis, Nick Pagonis, Taha Ismail, and Yohan Allender. The case was settled outside of court but further allegations against Mike Isabella Concepts piled up.
Washingtonian previously reported that the Pagonis brothers were hoping to negotiate with Isabella, asking him to step down while they ran the some of the company’s restaurants. But that plan is not moving forward.
“Mike and I are done 100 percent,” George says. “There is a zero percent chance that we will ever do something together again. Kapnos D.C. was the last restaurant standing that had our partnership, and with it closing, it also puts an end to the partnership.”
George says they tried to keep the restaurant open as long as possible so staff members could earn money leading up to the holidays and parties’ existing reservations could be honored. “But Isabella decided to cut a lot of our services including my personal e-mail, OpenTable, and credit card processing,” he says. “It left us no choice but to close down after service on Dec. 26.”
The restaurant hung a sign on the door saying that said the hood was broken.
The Pagonis brothers signed on as partners with Mike Isabella in 2011 so the trio could open Kapnos together. Cash from the sale of George and Nick’s father’s Alexandria diner, The Four Seasons, allowed them to move forward.
City Paper reached out to Isabella for comment. This story will be updated if he responds.