Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts in the main room of their restaurant, Cork. By Michael Temchine/For the Washington Post.

All parties involved say the parting is amicable. “We didn’t want him to go,” says Gross. “We love Ron.” Before moving to Cork, Tanaka had been a sous chef at some of the city’s starriest restaurants: CityZen, Palena and Michel Richard Citronelle.

The owners intend to keep the wine bar’s small plates concept. Pitts says he hopes Tanaka’s replacement, who has yet to be named, will “take Cork to the next level” in part by changing the menu more frequently and “creating more synergy between the restaurant and the market” Cork runs across the street from the wine bar. Pitts also hopes his next chef — there are three “excellent choices” in the running, he says — will help stage more wine dinners in both venues.