Chef Paul Qui has decided to close his East Austin restaurant Kuneho, according to a post on Eater Austin.
The James Beard award winner and former “Top Chef” winner originally opened the restaurant at 1600 E. Sixth St. in 2013 under the name Qui. He closed that restaurant in the summer of 2016, following a March arrest on charges of assaulting his girlfriend, and reopened at the beginning of this year. Qui discussed his arrest, his struggles with drugs and alcohol and his decision to close Qui in an August 2016 with the Statesman. Kuneho ( reviewed by the Statesman this spring) found the chef shifting his focus back to sushi and the “perfect bites” he crafted during his tenure at Uchi and Uchiko. The restaurant struggled to garner the excitement of Qui’s original venture and had some uneven spots, but was strong enough to earn the #23 spot in this year’s Austin360 Dining Guide.
Qui, who opened a wood-and-wok concept called Aqui in Houston this summer, has not responded to request for comment. The chef also opened modernist kaiseki Otoko with the New Waterloo Group at South Congress Hotel in 20166 (though his name does not appear on the restaurant’s website) and operates Pao by Paul Qui at the Faena luxury hotel in Miami Beach. Qui’s legal troubles have extended beyond the assault charges from 2016, which are still pending; earlier this year, the Statesman reported that Austin-based Farm to Table, LLC had sued Qui for about $25,000 for goods it provided for the chef’s namesake restaurant.
Eater Austin reports that the restaurant’s last day will be November 11. We’ll update this post with information from the chef and restaurant if and when we hear back.