This closing news is a double whammy: Artifact Cider House, home to the acclaimed pop-up Mimi’s Chūka Diner, shut down its Central Square taproom, the Station, this week, effectively shuttering two businesses at once. The taproom had housed Mimi’s for over a year, allowing the pop-up to dish out vegan and pork gyoza, Sichuan chile wontons, and garlic mazemen alongside Artifact’s cider.
But while Mimi’s may have lost its current kitchen, it is not gone for good. In the wake of the closure, owners Ted Woo and Jon Awerman are now doubling down on efforts to lock in a permanent restaurant space, Woo says.
The three-year-old pop-up — named after chūka ryōri, the Japanese word for Chinese food — started partnering with the Station nearly two years ago, in the summer of 2021. After a handful of successful one-off pop-ups, Artifact welcomed Woo and Awerman into a six-month residency at the Cambridge taproom. When that ended in April 2022, neither side wanted to part ways, according to Woo, and Mimi’s Chūka Diner became the permanent food partner at the taproom later that year.
Artifact was a gracious partner, and having a stable space for the pop-up was “a huge sense of security and relief,” Woo says. They didn’t have to pack their supplies in and out on a daily basis, no longer had to find adequate prep space for their multi-day dumpling-making process, and didn’t have to figure out the logistics of transporting food to borrowed kitchens for short periods of time. “There’s so much work behind the scenes that goes into popping up that people just aren’t really privy to,” Woo says.
The closure is disappointing for the pair, who said in an Instagram post announcing the shutdown that they were originally planning to keep the outpost at the Station running even after they found a permanent restaurant space. On that note, they haven’t yet found a place, but the spot will likely be on the “north side of the Charles,” Woo says, because they want to have a full bar, and the extremely high cost of a Boston liquor license is too steep for many small businesses to shoulder.
In the meantime, they’ll keep popping up occasionally throughout the summer. Keep an eye on Mimi’s Chūka Diner’s Instagram account to track their moves.