In a surprise announcement, Jeff Orbin, Aaron Teitelbaum, and Gabe Grossberg just issued a release saying they're closing Monarch, a nine-year staple--no, it was really the anchor--of the Maplewood dining scene.
Orbin told Relish that they have been looking to move Monarch to a smaller venue for at least a year, and that although they have not yet found the right location, those plans are moving forward.
Concurrently, the trio plans to launch an as-yet-unspecified new concept in the Monarch space in the fall of this year.
When Relish expressed its surprise, Orbin admitted that "the paint was not yet dry" for him either. The release mentioned the recent difficulties of independent restaurants nationally and locally, difficulties that are compounded as the square footage increases... and Monarch weighs in at a robust 10,000 SF. According to Orbin, "the St. Louis dining population has been unable to adequately support a restaurant of our caliber and size."
Orbin also mentioned a possible--we'll call it probable--cause to an erosion of his customers, the rise of "discount dining deal programs." Something tells us we are just now seeing the tip of that ugly iceberg.
The news was bittersweet in that Josh Galliano, Monarch's Exec Chef, was just named a semifinalist by the James Beard Foundation in its "Best Chef: Midwest" division.
At press time, Orbin was meeting with the staff to discuss the present and future.