Once a trio, the Ten Tables group is now back down to just its original location in Jamaica Plain — the Cambridge location's final service was on New Year's Eve. (The Provincetown location was sold in early 2014 to an employee, Kevin Fessler, and his business partner Rassa Ruptye; the duo opened a restaurant called Backstreet in its place.)
After a New Year's Day break, the Cambridge staff abruptly found out about the closure in a meeting with owner Krista Kranyak on January 2, 2016. She told the team that the restaurant had been sold to Ten Tables JP general manager Stan Hilbert, according to Cambridge executive chef Benjamin Lacy, and that all reservations had been canceled. "We had to gather up our things and make our move," said Lacy. Hilbert has not yet replied to a request for comment, but Lacy said that it sounds like Hilbert won't be keeping the Ten Tables name.
Hilbert, who also served as wine director at Ten Tables JP, had previously spent more than six years as server and sommelier at L'Espalier.
Confirming the closure and explaining the lack of notice to staff, Kranyak said: "Considering the very busy time of year and the priority of serving our clientele, I was not able to give prior notice which often results in staff leaving for new positions prior to closing. I completely understand that people's jobs/careers and lives are impacted when a restaurant closes. With that in mind, I remain hopeful that the new ownership will consider the now out-of-work staff for employment as will I for my new Grass Fed location in Forest Hills."
"In any event, it is never an easy decision to close a business that has established itself as a fixture in the neighborhood for the last six years," she continued. "But in order to give my future endeavors the attention required, keeping the Cambridge location was no longer an option. The Cambridge location is a special place where I have greatly appreciated customers and staff alike. I am excited for the new ownership and will of course let them announce their own opening. In the meantime, my attention is turned towards opening my second Grass Fed location as well as maintaining the consistency and quality of Ten Tables JP and Grass Fed on Centre Street."
Grass Fed is Kranyak's casual burger concept that first opened in March 2012 in JP. A second location, also in JP, is in the works in the former Tonic space (3698A Washington St.) by the Forest Hills MBTA station.
"I am very much looking forward to expanding the fast casual concept of Grass Fed," she said. "My new location will have more space, a 20-seat full-service bar with an all-alcohol license and an outdoor patio. I am also looking forward to the vibrancy of this developing neighborhood."
As for Lacy and a couple of his co-workers, they're considering this an opportunity to strike out on their own.
Lacy's tenure at Ten Tables came about in mid-2014 after Kranyak almost sold the location to the general manager at the time, Ian Rose, and his wife Lyndsay. They were going to open a restaurant called Homage Bistro in the space, with Lacy (an alum of Sel de la Terre in Natick and Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro in Foxborough) as executive chef.
The sale fell through, and Lacy became executive chef at Ten Tables. "It seemed like the proper move for me," said Lacy. "It was the type of food I wanted to do. It was kind of an odd thing to be going in there as part of a team that was going to buy it and change it around, but it felt like the most appropriate move for me at that point in time."
Now, Lacy and a couple co-workers are in the fledgling stages of figuring out their own project. A while back, they started talking about "what we value about restaurants and what we really want to accomplish in our lives," Lacy said. "We're talking about this being kind of a catalyst for maybe doing something on our own and trying to put a mark on our industry in our own way."
"I love the story of chef William Kovel from Catalyst," said Lacy. "I talked to him at one point shortly after he had opened, and he mentioned his situation and some misfortune that he had [the 2009 closure of Aujourd'hui], and how that was the catalyst for his deciding he wanted to open his own restaurant, and in a way, that's why he named the restaurant Catalyst. I thought that was such a unique, wonderful story, and it's not until being in this position that you really understand. You're forced out of one thing; you've got to force yourself to do another thing."
Lacy and his colleagues are "very passionate about farm-to-fork and pushing the boundaries of what you can get locally and having great relationships with your farmers and your fisherman," he said. In fact, they've talked about potentially heading out towards the suburbs a little bit, closer to the farms — one of the things he loved about working in Foxborough. But discussions of the future project are still in the early stages as it was only this weekend that the team's time at Ten Tables came to an unexpected end.
"Myself and the staff that was there, our general manager, our front-of-house staff — we really, really, really cared about that place," said Lacy. "We really loved all of our guests who came in the doors, and we really appreciate everything that they did for us. We did some really awesome, fun things that wouldn't have been possible if they weren't accepting and excited. It's really kind of a bummer that [the staff] was a family that's now kind of broken up. You grow and learn, but it's hard when the band breaks up. These guys were awesome — some of the greatest people."