A high-profile restaurant in Dallas' Bishop Arts is closing: Macellaio, the casual, butcher-driven spot from restaurateurs David and Jennifer Uygur, will close at the end of 2020.
But the space, located at 287 N. Bishop Ave., will become the new home to Lucia, their nationally acclaimed Italian restaurant.
Lucia will leave its current location at 408 W. 8th St., where it has been for a decade, on December 31.
The Uygurs shared the news in a Facebook post, calling the move "a new beginning."
"We've spent the last nine months trying to figure out how to sustain our three restaurants—Lucia, Macellaio, and Salaryman—while keeping our staff and guests safe. For us, that has meant keeping our dining rooms closed for dine-in and offering only To Go options."
The post acknowledges that the couple worried how long they could keep up: "Turns out we could keep it up about 9 months," their post says.
"Keeping our dining rooms closed as long as we have seems to have succeeded in keeping our team Covid-19 free so far," it says. "But nothing could protect our friend and Salaryman business partner, Justin Holt, from a devastating cancer diagnosis in October. There’s no Salaryman without him. The restaurant closed permanently that same month. Justin responding to treatment and getting out of the hospital has been the best news we’ve gotten all year."
The couple say that, during the pandemic, they struggled to find the right niche for Macellaio, where sales kept dropping, despite multiple pivots.
"With drastically diminished sales and no Salaryman to help share expenses, there simply isn’t a path forward for Macellaio," they say. "So, David and I decided to close it permanently. Which was a terrifying decision to make, since there are multiple years remaining on the lease at Macellaio’s space at 287 N. Bishop Ave."
However, their lease at Lucia's location expires at the end of the year. After what they call "many heart-wrenching discussions," they decided not to renew, given the great number of unknowns in the world of Covid-19, and will move Lucia into the Macellaio space instead, which they call their "best chance to not just survive, but thrive in the coming years."
"This move means we’ll still be able to honor our lease commitments to our landlord at Macellaio’s old space. It means we can still work in the neighborhood we love. It means we’ll have a large, covered patio with propane heaters and fans where we can seat guests at a safe distance from each other."
"It means we’ll have a larger dining room with enough room to both socially distance our tables and be able to feed enough guests to allow us to pay our staff and our bills. It means we have hope for the first time in months."
Since opening in 2010, Lucia has earned national attention and numerous awards for its thoughtful interpretation of Italian food with salumi, cheese boards, risotto, and pastas, as well as its stellar wine list. With lots of buzz and a dining room with only 36 seats, it remained a hot reservation to snag throughout its lifespan.
They followed it up with Macellaio, which they opened with house-cured meats and a full bar, in 2018.
After a temporary closure induced by COVID-19, the Uygurs instituted take-out only at both Lucia and Macellaio in May 2020. While their offerings often sold out, it was apparently still not enough.
Salaryman's former space will become a Lucia To Go spot. Lucia will re-open in the spring.
"We’re sad to leave our beloved little spot in the Bishop Arts Building," their post says. "There’s so much history here. But we’re so grateful that we have a way to build a future for Lucia. Even if it’s somewhere else."