An acclaimed restaurant in Richardson is closing: Chelle's Seafood Kitchen, from award-winning chef-owner Michelle Vi Pepping, will close this weekend, with its last day on Sunday, May 29.
Pepping, who was a nominee for Best Chef in Dallas at CultureMap's 2022 annual Tastemaker Awards, said that the closure was due to all of the challenges faced in the aftermath of the pandemic.
"With the desire to focus on my other business ventures and in conjunction with all of the challenges presented by COVID, inflation, and staffing issues that have plagued virtually all small businesses, I've been recently approached with an opportunity that I simply cannot pass on," Pepping said. "As such, Chelle's will serve its last meals (for the time being) this weekend."
Pepping said she had been approached by a buyer who wanted to come in, and selling proved to be "the best business decision."
Chelle's specialized in seafood, and even before she announced the closure, the restaurant was often forced to issue warnings that items may be unavailable or prices impacted due to industrywide supply chain shortages.
"The inflation is outrageous and shortage in supplies and staffing has been a huge issue for us," she said.
A native of New Jersey and a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in business, Pepping worked for years in the corporate world before opening Tasty Tails, a New Orleans seafood joint in 2013. Craving a fresh start, she rebranded it to Chelle's Seafood Kitchen, focused on East Coast-style seafood with an Asian twist.
The rebranding earned raves for dishes such as crab, oysters, burgers, tacos, plus specialties such as shrimp & grits, seafood vodka pasta, and lobster ravioli.
She opened Chelle's to showcase her two passions — good food and charitable work. A percentage of all sales went towards local nonprofits that diners could suggest, while the menu was an ever-evolving rotation of seafood fare from all over the world.
She also co-founded Okaeri Cafe, an acclaimed Japanese restaurant on Greenville Avenue in Richardson, which remains open.
Pepping expressed her gratitude, stating, "I want to personally thank all of our customers for your support and patronage and, of course, my staff for your loyalty and dedication," she said. "While the future for Chelle's remains unclear, what is certain is that is not a goodbye. There are plans in the works for the next iteration of Chelle's, and I invite you all to stay tuned."
She urged customers to support and buy local. "When you support small businesses, you're supporting families in your own community and their dreams," she said.
Hours over the weekend are as follows:
- Thursday May 26: closing at 9 pm, bar will remain open late for Mavs Watch Party
- Friday May 27 & Saturday May 28: 11:30 am-10 pm
- Sunday May 29: 11:30 am-9 pm
"We remained true to our motto of 'Eat good, do good,' and have given back to Heart House, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Vogel Alcove, Salvation Army just to name a few," she said. "Seeing this dream come to life and serving our community has been an absolute honor."