Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Andersonville's Premise sold and shuttered

Posted By on 08.29.12 at 08:56 AM

Brian Runge
  • Restaurant Intelligence Agency
  • Brian Runge

Correction: This post was amended to correctly reflect that Premise's last service was Sunday night and the meeting was held Tuesday.

On Sunday night Premise, the promising Andersonville modernist restaurant helmed by former Graham Elliott chef Brian Runge, held its last service. Runge says he was called into a meeting at 3 PM Tuesday and told the restaurant had been sold to the LM Bistro restaurant group and would be refigured into some sort of French concept.

The publicist for LM ownership Stephan and Nicole Outrequin Quaisser confirmed this in a manner by declining to confirm, saying an "exclusive" had been granted to another media outlet "and we're going to have a meeting about it tomorrow" (presumably to decide whether said outlet would be required to spit or swallow). A woman with a heavy European accent who answered the phone at Premise confirmed that it had closed, but would say no more.

Premise opened in April after In Fine Spirits owners Johnnie Grozenski, Paul Hasenwinkel, and Shane and Jill Kissack reconcepted the popular neighborhood wine bar into a hopeful modernist fine dining and cocktail destination. Here's what I said about it in my review: "If Runge's sophisticated food fails to attract the kind of repeat business that a neighborhood restaurant needs to survive, then I'm sorry for Andersonville—and for the restaurant itself—because Premise has earned its place among the neighborhood's culinary elite." I wasn't the only critic to praise the chef's approach, nor the fine work of bartender Luke Lefiles—though it wasn't unanimous, and for some reason the neighborhood didn't get hip.

Yesterday, Runge wasn't offering exclusives but he did want to vent. He said he felt blindsided, and that the restaurant, which had only been open for four months, had finally turned a corner, doing its highest sales on Saturday. "I was like, we've done it," he says. "We've beaten the neighborhood." Now Runge, with a wife and six-month-old at home, is out of work with no severance pay.

The Outrequin Quaissers, who recently relocated Lincoln Square's LM Bistro to the Hotel Felix, are expanding their empire exponentially, having opened the Ravenswood Troquet and Brasserie by LM in the Essex Hotel. Gee, another French restaurant. I guess we just don't have enough croques monsieur and cassoulet.

Correction: This post was amended to correctly reflect that Premise's last service was Sunday night and the meeting was held Tuesday.

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