492, one of the most outwardly ambitious restaurants to arrive on Upper King Street since the area emerged as a high-end dining district, has closed after three years in business. According to sources close to the operation, employees learned of the closure following brunch service on Sunday.
“It was a difficult decision and we are grateful to the team for their hard work and dedication over the past four years,” director of operations Dave Bucks said in a statement provided by Relish Restaurant Group.
The statement says the closure will allow Relish to focus exclusively on its remaining property, Ms. Rose’s Fine Food & Cocktails.
Anita Zucker’s restaurant group in 2015 opened 492 as a showplace for chef Nate Whiting, who’d taken steps down modernist pathways at its previous restaurant, Tristan. Befitting its status, the restaurant designed by Alicia Reed at the corner of King and Morris streets was decked out in what this critic described as “disco dazzle”: Its two-story dining room registered as “a calculated marvel of glass, cypress and tin.”
Whiting was granted more leeway at the new restaurant to fully indulge his creativity, but the results apparently didn’t resonate with customers: He was replaced in September 2016 by Josh Keeler, who’d earned national acclaim as chef-owner of Two Boroughs Larder.
“The size scares me,” Keeler told The Post and Courier before starting his job at the 150-seat restaurant. “It’s intimidating, but it’s exciting. We can do incredible things.”
Under Keeler, the restaurant developed a deli-themed Sunday brunch program that was tremendously popular with food-and-beverage workers. It also continued to collect positive write-ups from online reviewers, but often appeared less than full on busy weekend nights.
Keeler did not immediately return a text message seeking comment.
Other leading local culinary talents associated with 492 during its run were Megan Deschaine, who managed its bar before taking a job with Indigo Road (and earned a New York Times mention for the restaurant) and pastry chef Amanee Neirouz.
This is the second consecutive weekend that a surprise closure has left longtime members of the Charleston food-and-beverage community out of work. Last Sunday, The Getaway, where Top Chef alum Emily Hahn served as head chef, unexpectedly shuttered to rework its concept.