In the latest pandemic-induced blow to the Madison restaurant scene, Estrellón announced Thursday afternoon that it would close for good.
“It’s with a heavy heart that we are announcing the permanent closure of Estrellón restaurant,” read a message sent from the Facebook and Instagram accounts of the upscale, Spanish-inspired supper club.
“We want to thank everyone that supported us for the last seven years and allowed us to do what we loved.”
The announcement is not entirely a surprise. All three of the restaurants owned by Deja Food Group closed when the pandemic took hold in spring 2020, but Estrellón remained closed even after Graze and L’Etoile reopened in April 2021.
“Much like a restaurant opening, a closure comes with months of uncertainty and emotions,” the restaurant’s statement read. “The last 1.5 years have been unforgettable but have strengthened how we cherish the first five.”
Co-owner and chef Tory Miller did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He previously told the Cap Times that Deja Food Group had been approved to receive money through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund but, like many women and business owners of color, did not receive the promised funds. That’s because a series of lawsuits — one of which was brought by the conservative legal group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty — alleged discrimination, leading courts to order the Small Business Administration to stop prioritizing such groups.
The $28.6 billion fund has since run out. According to a recent survey from the Independent Restaurant Coalition of 800 restaurant operators, 82% believe they’ll close if Congress does not replenish the fund.
On social media, customers lamented the loss of a favorite spot for date nights and Basque cakes.
“Estrellón served, by far, the best food anywhere. What a shame this one had to go,” one person wrote.
“Thank you, Estrellón, for the memories back in your early days, of amazing brunches on the bar side and delicious tapas for dinner,” wrote another.
One former staff member recalled developing her craft in the now-shuttered kitchen. “Estrellón will always be one of my fondest memories in the industry.”
Meanwhile, restaurants across Madison are short of workers, and Graze and L’Etoile are no exception. Both restaurants opted to close for a week in August to give staff a break. In December 2020, Miller began a new, built-for-the-pandemic business: Miller Family Meat & Three. The family-style, takeout-only business operated out of the bar side of Estrellón. But Miller told the Wisconsin State Journal in April that he was struggling to hire enough people to staff the two-person operation.
The latest post on the Miller Family Meat & Three Facebook page is from April 20, explaining that the operation will be closed through May 9 “due to staffing issues.” The post also invited job seekers to apply.
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