“Like they say, I guess all good things must come to an end,” says Real Restaurants’ partner Bill Higgins, when returning my call inquiring about the gossip I heard this past week about Betelnut’s closure. It’s sadly true. Twenty years after its 1995 opening, and serving countless minced chicken lettuce cups since, ~BETELNUT~ is closing on Sunday September 27th, after lunch and dinner service.
The lease was up, and the building owner did not renew, although the Real Restaurants crew were allowed to run through the summer month-to-month. But now, as we all sadly know, summer is wrapping up and it’s time for them to vacate. Looking back on the 20 years, Higgins shares, “We had a good run, with many periods of glory—the restaurant was emulated by many, and accomplished a lot. And it was a lot of fun. I think we showed many people a great time.” Most definitely. I have many fond (and blurry) memories there, from fantastic group dinners to having former chef Alex Ong’s versions of cha ca la vong and beggar’s chicken (thanks Cecilia).
As for their many talented and loyal employees, Higgins says they are helping the front and back of house find good homes. He quickly added, “The Betelnut staff has been phenomenal. It’s always a hard moment for a restaurateur, but they have been so great, with many staying until the end, for the final hurrah. Truly phenomenal.”
And so, another one of our city’s old-timers exits the stage. The ‘nut was an anchor on Union Street, and it will be strange to have it gone. Thanks for all the delicious meals and hospitality!
The lounge at Betelnut. Photo © Brooke Gray Photography via Facebook.