A three-month LGBTQ-friendly pop-up slated to go in the Chez Ann restaurant space has been canceled.
The closure was announced on a private Facebook post directed at pop-up attendees (and shared with Eater) around 10 a.m. March 7, just hours before the pop-up was scheduled to open. The operators behind the pop-up say they canceled the event after Chez Ann owner Kimberly Houston threatened them with litigation and police involvement if they did not shut down.
Eater wrote a story March 5 highlighting Ellas as a temporary new tenant for the Chez Ann space, and noted the restaurant appeared to be a replacement restaurant for Chez Ann. Eater was later contacted by pop-up operator Ella Webber and Houston, who both clarified that Chez Ann would not be closing permanently. The story has since been updated.
Webber’s team told Eater and noted in the Facebook post that they believe the chef’s unhappiness with media coverage of the pop-up, as well as previous media coverage of another incident at Chez Ann’s, is part of what prompted the cancellation of the pop-up. They also said that the space had been left in complete disarray for them to clean up themselves before the scheduled pop-up, and said they felt threatened after receiving a series of erratic text messages from Houston leading up to the event’s cancellation. Eater reached out to Houston for any additional comment regarding the closure of the pop-up.
Update (March 15): It appears that Houston has reopened Chez Ann immediately after expelling pop-up Ellas from the space. Houston claims the restaurant was never closed, however, there was no sign that Chez Ann would have been operational while Ellas was open in its space.
Chez Ann was the centre of controversy in February after a pop-up Chinese New Year dinner went off the rails, with owner Kimberly Houston allegedly throwing food at a visiting chef and berating guests after one table brought their own alcohol to the event (which was not BYOB). At the time, Houston said many people illegally brought their own alcohol, however, multiple guests and staff contested that version of events.
Having cancelled the pop-up, Webber says they’re now hoping to open Ellas elsewhere in the near future, and are keeping their “ear to the ground” for vacant spaces in which to do so.
“I really do feel like the community is ready for this … I really hope that we can move forward and find a space,” Webber says. “We have a good team and people ready to work hard and make a great community space, and that’s, I think, what is the driving force.”