Lee Lee’s Hot Kitchen, which was hailed upon opening for bringing classic Chinese-American dishes to the Westside, has served its last meal.
According to an employee, staffers on Sunday night were notified they didn’t need to return to work. Owner Karalee Nielsen Fallert declined to elaborate on the situation, saying she'll later reveal details on "what we intend to do with the space next."
Promoted as a joint project between serially successful restaurateur Fallert and Seattle chef Lily Lei, who served as a consultant, Lee Lee’s opened in early 2014. Although initial reviews were tepid, Jeff Allen noted in a 2015 assessment for Charleston Magazine that “a thorough retooling of the menu has Lee Lee’s on the vanguard of local places that are truly hot,” praising its Sichuan dumplings and Hunan beef.
With the happy exception of Luke’s Craft Pizza, the Westside area west of King Street has largely struggled to keep up with the city’s culinary growth: A project at the corner of Fishburne and President streets, now under John Zucker’s supervision, has been years in the making.
The restaurant on Monday morning issued an official statement thanking patrons for their support, and explaining, "We’ve...faced serious struggles, such as endless road construction that made it even harder to find an already obscure location, and the ever increasing shortage of food and beverage employees in the Charleston area."