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The Shaw location of Burmese restaurant Mandalay will close after Thursday. Owner Aung Myint says he has to return to Burma to take care of some family businesses, which he did not wish to publicly elaborate on. He says he could be away up a few months or a couple years, though he still owns the restaurant’s building at the corner of 9th and P streets NW. “I don’t want it to be empty not knowing on my end how long this will take,” he says.
Mandalay opened last September offering only a $70 tasting menu, but soon after expanded to include a more affordable a la carte lounge menu. Still, the restaurant seemed to be mostly empty during my multiple visits. But Myint says the restaurant’s closure did not have to do with financial issues.
“If it happens that [I’m away] a year or six months, you might see a pop-up next summer,” Myint says. “It all depends on how it goes at home.”
UPDATE: A dim sum restaurant will replace Mandalay, Myint tells Y&H. Also, Shaw Main Streets has released a press release with more details about Mandalay’s closure:
MANDALAY RESTAURANT TO CLOSE; NEW ASIAN CONCEPT COMING SOON
Washington, DC’s Mandalay Restaurant will close permanently on Thursday, May 15, 2014, at 8:00 PM. But not for any reason you’d think.
Aung Myint, chef/owner, is closing the District’s only Burmese restaurant after only eight months due to two deaths in his family causing him to relocate to Burma to manage a family business. “Not only do I have to do this for my family, but there are 600 people who work for the family business. I really have no choice.”
Myint, whose family built and will continue to own the building where the restaurant is located, has chosen his restaurant’s successor, with details to be announced imminently. “It was very important to me to find a new operator and concept that the neighborhood would feel comfortable with, after we were so warmly received by the community,” Myint says. “I couldn’t leave it to a broker after I left the country. The concept will be announced by the new team shortly.”
Mandalay had become a popular neighborhood destination, and was featured in a DC Main Streets Metrobus and Metrorail advertising campaign that can still be seen on the city’s streets. After initially only offering a seven course tasting menu, Myint expanded the restaurant’s offerings to small plates on the ground floor and brunch on weekends. With hundreds of new residents moving to City Market at O and Jefferson Marketplace, Mandalay was set to hit its stride. Then came the terrible news that two cousins, who ran a 50-year-old family tourism business in Burma, both died of natural causes during the course of a single month. “My family is simply devastated, and no one in Burma is able to step up to the plate and take the reins,” Myint explains.
“We’re sorry to see Mandalay go so soon, but we respect Mr. Myint’s obligations to his family and wish him well,” said Alexander M. Padro, executive director of Shaw Main Streets, the commercial revitalization organization that serves central Shaw’s 7th and 9th Streets, NW commercial corridors. “But we’re also excited about the new concept and can’t wait for them to open this summer.”
Mandalay will be serving dinner on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night, then closing at 8:00 PM on Thursday for a final staff event.
The original Mandalay restaurant in Silver Spring, MD, will remain open.
Mandalay is located at 1501 9th Street, NW. Reservations are not required for the restaurant’s regular menu in the first floor seating area. Reservations for the tasting menu on the second floor can be made online at www.mandalaydc.com.
Shaw Main Streets is a designated DC Main Streets local program, funded in part by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development, Vincent C. Gray, Mayor.
Photo by Jessica Sidman