It's the end of an era, as Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani announced plans to close their fine-dining restaurant Ame by the end of February. The duo has been the proprietors of the restaurant in the St. Regis Hotel for the last ten years, earning a Michelin star in 2008, and every year since.
Now, after a decade of mingling Japanese and California cuisine, they've decided not to sign on for another ten year contract. According to Doumani, she and Sone recently renewed the contract for Terra, their St. Helena restaurant, for another ten years. "We thought about it and decided that just might be enough," said Doumani. "We're ending on a great note." In fact, Ame was the last Sone/Doumani outpost in San Francisco, following the closure of Urchin Bistrot over the summer.
Doumani says that while the decision to close was a harmonious one, she and Sone's main concern was the restaurant's staff, whom will stay on despite the concept change. "It's people we've hired and worked with, and that we care a lot about," said Doumani. "We want them to feel secure."
In the meantime, the hotel is planning to implement a "pop-up grill" in Ame's place. The hotel's executive chef Franck Desplechin will design a menu that will run for eight weeks, starting March 1, followed by renovations and implementation of a permanent new concept.
Fans of Ame should make plans now— the last day to dine there will be February 29. And though it's only an idea right now, Doumani says there might be some fun final dinners with past chefs (including the likes of Erik Lowe of Spaghetti Brothers). "We like to do things that are kind of odd," said Doumani, referencing a past dinner series featuring Hawaiian tiki nights and Japanese farm cooking, respectively.
As for their next moves, Doumani says nothing with change with their flagship restaurant, Terra, but they're always open to new opportunities. "There is never nothing else but there's nothing on the horizon right now"