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Garrison Chef Says His Business Tanked After Trump Took Office

Eater logo Eater 1/11/2019 Tierney Plumb
a bench in front of a store: Garrison’s last dinner service is scheduled for Saturday, January 12. © Garrison/Facebook Garrison’s last dinner service is scheduled for Saturday, January 12.

Rob Weland says Capitol Hill’s ‘energy change’ contributed to the closure

Garrison — the veggie-forward restaurant in Capitol Hill that got a rare three-star review from Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema upon opening in 2015 — will serve its last dish this Saturday, Eater has confirmed. Sietsema tweeted the news this morning, and Washingtonian published a story about the closure earlier today.

Chef Rob Weland says the Southeast D.C. restaurant had slower sales partly because of a change in the political climate under the Trump administration.

“We had a wonderful clientele and it changed dramatically — there’s been an energy change,” he tells Eater. “I do miss it and hope it comes back.”

When asked to elaborate, Weland said to turn on CNN and Fox News but wouldn’t comment further. He also cited rising competition in the area as a problem for Garrison. His recent efforts were focused on “saving” the restaurant at 524 8th Street SE, and he says he wishes it wasn’t closing.

“We are proud of what we accomplished and had a wonderful first couple of years — unfortunately it just didn’t make sense any more in this location,” he says. “Traffic patterns have changed a bit.”

Garrison shares space on the Barracks Row strip with Michelin-starred Rose’s Luxury and Pineapple and Pearls, which opened in 2013 and 2016, respectively. During better times, Weland says, he counted two Supreme Court justices as customers. Weland also cooked for Michelle Obama during his days as head chef at Cork.

Weland declined to say what neighborhood might be a better fit for bringing the restaurant back.

“I feel like everything is pushing towards the outskirts of the city. D.C. is home for me and I’ve been here a while ... I just have to find my people now, if you will,” he says.

Along with its vegetarian tasting menus, fresh pastas, and seasonal American fare, Garrison’s barbecue pig roast platters were a hit since day one. He says the winter cheese fondue was also well received over the past couple months at the cozy wood-lined restaurant.

“We kept our traditions going, we just didn’t get the butts in the seats,” he says. “I wish we could have kept the momentum going.”

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