East Austin fine dining restaurant LaV closed today after less than a two-year run, citing fiscal concerns. The elegant restaurant owned by Houston oil and gas executive Ralph Eads opened in March 2014 across from the Texas State Cemetery, drawing many raised eyebrows from those who felt the restaurant did not fit the neighborhood.
But strong cuisine from opening executive chef Allison Jenkins, a world-class wine list and personalized service featuring Vilma Mazaite brought the restaurant to early prominence. The Provencal-inspired restaurant earned a spot in my Top 10 in 2014. The restaurant suffered from personnel moves and instability in 2015, though it stayed in my Top 20 on this year’s list.
Jenkins left in the spring, Mazaite changed roles in October, leaving her position on the floor, and executive pastry chef Janina O’Leary and her husband, interim executive chef Sean O’Leary, followed with their departure a few weeks later.
The restaurant served its final meal on New Year’s Eve, and Eads this morning posted the following message to the restaurant’s Facebook page:
“LaV was born from our desire to provide an exceptional dining experience from top to bottom. From the wine program to the food, the service to the space we took great pride in the work that we put in and the results that we have seen. While we are extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished since opening, we’ve come to see that it’s not fiscally feasible to continue to operate LaV at its current level. Rather than cutting corners or providing an experience that doesn’t hold up to the high standards we’ve set for ourselves, we’ve decided to close the restaurant. We’ve been absolutely humbled by the support from the Austin community, and are extremely grateful for our team’s passion and dedication over the last few years.”
I will have more news about the future of the space in the coming weeks.