The lights at Light Bistro have been shut off; last night was the last meal served from chef Matt Mathlage and Eric Dietrich’s Ohio City restaurant. The partners informed their staff this morning that the restaurant was closing.
The high-end eatery opened back in March of 2007, surviving the economic collapse, the Great Recession and the complete transformation of the neighborhood it calls home. At various times, the restaurant thrived or just barely survived in an increasingly competitive culinary landscape.
“We had a decision to make about whether to shut down, re-concept and dump more money into it or close and focus on just one restaurant for now,” explains Mathlage, referring to his Hudson-based Southern restaurant Peachtree, which opened this past winter.
“Fortunately, Hudson is doing very,” he adds. “If Peachtree wasn’t doing great we probably would have done everything we could to keep Light Bistro going.”
Discussions were had about closing Light and completely rebranding it to be more neighborhood-friendly, but in the end, the decision to close and look for a new operator (the partners own the real estate) won out. Tipping the scales in that direction is the fact that Mathlage is expecting his third son in two weeks.
Attempts to find a new tenant so far have been thwarted by the need to keep things confidential. Once diners and employees start hearing rumors of sale, says Mathlage, it becomes a quickly sinking ship.