Venue Bistro in the Highlands has closed its doors quietly. Several weeks ago, Eater got wind that the small eatery owned by Holly Hartnett, a restaurant veteran and former employee of Table 6, is being evicted. In a phone conversation, Hartnett denied the eviction rumor and promised that closure was not imminent. Unfortunately for those fond of Venue Bistro, that promise is at odds with the reality. The sign and the mural of the restaurant are gone, and so is the website, along with a shut-down Open Table reservation system and full voicemail.
Venue Bistro opened in 2008 and received great reviews over the first couple of years, including a nod for a James Beard award in 2010 in the Rising Star category when James Rugile helmed the stoves. Rugile left in October of 2010 to join Frank Bonanno's team at Mizuna and his position was taken by then-sous-chef Patrick Horvat, who departed Venue late last year. While this small eatery became a neighborhood favorite early on, signs of trouble in the form of very unhappy customers have been obvious for many months. Many of the experiences described on local review boards paint the service and environment at Venue in general and owner Holly Hartnett in particular as unfriendly, unaccommodating, and downright weird and rude. That and the eviction rumor make the closure less of a surprise.
Venue Bistro [Photo: Grace Boyle]