51 Lincoln Will Serve Its Final Meal on Saturday
Chef and restaurateur Jeffrey Fournier has not seen the bottom line improve at 51 Lincoln since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April, so he’s decided to shutter the 10-year old bistro. Fournier told his 17 employees the news on Saturday, and this Saturday, June 25, will be 51 Lincoln’s final dinner service.
“We’ve done our best, but the restructuring from the Chapter 11, at the end of the day, there is a lot of confusion if we’re open or closed. We saw our sales continue to drop after kind of a surge for the first three weeks or so” after 51 Lincoln declared bankruptcy, Fournier says. “It just was feeling not sustainable.”
Since 51 Lincoln opened in 2006, new dining options have proliferated around Boston and its suburbs, and Fournier believes fewer people think of Newton Highlands when they go out to eat. “A lot of our regular guests are supporting us, that are in there once a week, every other week, but getting new guests when there are so many new restaurants out there” has been a challenge, he says.
Over the past decade, Fournier has built a reputation for high-quality, seasonal, and creative cuisine at 51 Lincoln. The restaurant earned accolades in the pages of Boston magazine, including in a couple Best of Boston issues and on the 2011 50 Best Restaurants list. In 2012, Fournier opened Waban Kitchen, which closed its doors for good this spring.
“Ten years ago this spring, you welcomed me into this community and believed in my vision of a small, neighborhood restaurant that served creative, local, high-quality food,” Fournier wrote in an email to guests this morning. “I built my first rooftop garden here, perfected my rigatoni bolognese, and most importantly, met my wife and started my family. So while it’s sad to see this chapter come to a close, I can’t help but feel blessed by what I’ve gained in the process.”
Fournier’s second restaurant, Waban Kitchen, opened in 2012, and shuttered for good this spring. The restauranteur turns 48 years old today. He plans to spend time with his wife, Kate, and two young sons. “I’m going to take a little bit of time after we close to look at what’s next for the complete future,” he says, adding that he is is in talks with a local restaurant group about a potential new venture.
“Over 10 years, people’s perceptions about your dishes can feel a little bit confining. I would like a change, and to look at where my food’s going to go,” he says. He declined to comment further on his future plans at this time.
From Tuesday through Saturday this week, he plans to serve classic 51 Lincoln dishes, like pan-seared watermelon steak, Caesar salad, and that bolognese, and “cook the way we want to cook.”
“My overall feeling is we’d like to make [this last week] a party, not a funeral,” Fournier says.
51 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands, 617-965-3100, 51lincolnnewton.com.