WHY Thames Street Kitchen Is Closing

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In an exclusive in-depth interview, we ask TSK’s Julia Hoffer why the owners of Thames Street Kitchen decided to go out on top and where they’re going from here.

It’s always sad when a place you love closes. With their recent announcement Thames Street Kitchen (TSK) is joining the ranks of other beloved Newport restaurants that have closed in the last few years. From Salas’ to Yesterday’s and The Canfield House to The Rhumbline, we’ve seen too many classics close up shop with little to no warning, and a lot of regular customers wondering, why? And what now?  One thing the owners of TSK wanted to give their loyal customers was a sense of closure, and a promise of something to come in the future, so they granted an interview with us to do just that. We sat down with co-owner Julia Hoffer, and here’s what she had to say about owning a restaurant, the state of the industry, and the possibility of a Mission on Maui, read on.

Newport Blast: You guys have been open for 5 years now, and have enjoyed some great accolades and success with TSK. With that in mind, I think everyone is kind of wondering, what ultimately led to your decision to close?

Julia Hoffer: Well, our lease is up, and even though our landlord is the most amazing guy ever, we just realized we outgrew the space. To be frank, the amount of people we turn away in the summer can be quite frustrating. We get a lot of calls, and we’re booked weeks ahead of time, so people can’t try the food, and eventually they just give up. It’s just time ya know. We hit the ceiling, and we need to move on.

Also, it’s been five years, and my father always taught us you go out on a high note, you know? You don’t go out when you’re struggling. You go when people are still excited about the restaurant, still excited to eat there.

NB: Well, that kind of leads into my next question, most restaurants close after a decline in quality, service, or both even. How does it feel for you guys to be going out on top?

JH: I mean, I don’t want to come out like “Oh we’re on top,” but you said it! (laughs) And you’re right, usually as a restaurant, you go out when you’re sinking. But this was our best year yet, and it was important for us to leave on a high note. We don’t want rumors going around that TSK was not doing well, because we are doing well. It’s just time for a change. Change for us is really great, we have Mission, and Mission has been staying busy, and that’s really great for us, but in order to do something “bigger and better” or work on another opportunity, we aren’t able to concentrate on anything with the two restaurants.

NB: Yeah, and if you want to go on and do something “bigger and better” you need to sort of cut ties with what you originally were.

JH: YYes, so basically, that’s that main thing, the lease was up, and like I said we outgrew the space. The biggest thing is that we need to be able to concentrate and put all of our efforts towards a new project. We certainly want to open another restaurant. This is our career we are in it for the long haul. But change is good. It’s always been important for us to keep things fresh and exiting!

NB: So it sounds like your next project may not necessarily be a joint venture…

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Dennis Hofer was born in Newport Hospital. If you don't know him, someone you know does. He's a master of loading Pez Dispensers, self proclaimed connoisseur of chicken parm sandwiches, and always good for a joke or six. If you see him drinking a hefeweizen, please tell him to just go home. High fives for reading this far.