After five years on the very edge of East Dallas, Latin-American restaurant Joyce & Gigi's Kitchen has decided to close at the end of August. Founder Gigliola "Gigi" Zimmermann says that, after being tied to the kitchen since 2012, she's ready for a break.
Zimmerman was facing a new lease, and her personal situation also recently changed.
"Our lease was up, so that's some of it, but I just got married four months ago and I felt like it was time for a change," she says. "One thing that Joyce & Gigi's taught me is that this industry is extremely demanding. I wasn't sure I was ready to extend the lease for another five years, and at this point, it's not just my decision, it's also my husband's."
When Joyce & Gigi's Kitchen opened in an old body shop at 1623 Ross Ave. in fall 2012, it brought an exciting taste of Peruvian food to the center of Dallas. Gigi had studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin and had worked at kitchens in Dallas and Europe including Fearing's, Five Sixty, the Stoneleigh, Martín Berasategui in Spain, and Aeschbach Chocolatier in Switzerland.
Diners loved its causa limena, a Peruvian dish with potato and crabmeat, topped with avocado puree. And finally, a place to get South American delicacies like empanadas and the slow-cooked stew called feijoada.
J&G's was also an early settler in an area on Ross Avenue that has blown up in the past few years, with construction of a seemingly endless series of new five-story apartment complexes along that strip. In 2014, the restaurant was joined by Method Coffee, which opened next door. Her space won't be empty for long; she hints that a new concept is waiting in the wings to take over the space.
Gigi's husband is John Zimmerman, founder of Crisp Salad Company, with whom she'll likely consult. "For now, I'm just remaining open to see what kind of opportunities there are," she says. "The most important thing right now for me is the flexibility. It's been a pleasure to serve the community and the people who found our food interesting and unique, but I'm ready for a new chapter."