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Usually, it's Relish (or another local food pub) that announces restaurant openings and closings; we usually do so in this space and chase it with an announcement on Twitter. Last evening, unsolicited, the Twitterverse reversed course and followers of @stlmag_relish on Twitter saw this:
Curious to confirm the rumor, Relish attempted to contact Chez Leon and owner Leon Bierbaum, but to no avail. The restaurant was closed for service last night, so this morning Relish swung by Chez Leon for a peek. Although the patio tables and chairs were still in place, the linens were off the tables and the artwork (including a spectacular painting of a French flag on the back bar, at left), had been taken off the walls and placed on the floor.
Chez Leon moved to Clayton from its long time digs in the CWE early in 2010. Its classy, black walled decor and eye-popping artwork made it popular for special occasions, date nights, or anytime a romantic lunch or dinner setting was in order.
Chez' lunch service is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. More as we know it.
UPDATE (1:40 p.m.): Among tables stacked with starched linen and thin-stemmed glassware, Relish was able to sneak a few words with Leon Bierbaum, who did confirm that the restaurant was nowclosed.
When asked the reason for the sudden closure, he replied that it was a combination of things: "One, this last year was particularly tough. Customer counts were down and what they ate and drank was down. Us trying to stimulate business with Groupon-type offers did not help...customers seemed to come all at once, filling the place up, straining the level of service and the pacing of the meals. It was especially unfair to our full paying customers who got caught up in the middle of it."
When asked of his future plans, he exhaled and said, " I don't know. Everything I have is tied up in this place."
He then reflected on the past, searching for words to sum up his feelings: "Business here was just never at the level that we thought it would be...I probably should have never left the Central West End."