Barbara “B.” Smith announced Friday that she would close her restaurant in Union Station after nearly 20 years in business.
Located in the ornate East Hall, the restaurant is one of three owned by her company, B. Smith Enterprises, with others on West 46th Street in New York and in Sag Harbor, Long Island.
A native of rural Pennsylvania and a former model, Smith built an empire on her Southern-themed cuisine, becoming an author, actress and host of radio and television shows. Her 1995 book ‘’B. Smith’s Entertaining and Cooking for Friends,’’ was one of the first on entertaining by a black author. She sells a collection of home goods through Bed Bath & Beyond, acts in off-Broadway shows and co-hosts a weekly SiriusXM Radio program called the “B. Smith and ‘Thank You Dan’ Show.”
Smith plans to keep the two new New York restaurants open, according to her company’s statement. No reason was offered for the D.C. closure, and a spokeswoman did not immediately know the reason or when the restaurant would finally close.
When the restaurants opened they were places to see and be seen. But in its statement, the company seemed to acknowledge that the D.C. outpost had not kept up with the District’s rapidly evolving restaurant scene, saying it plans to find new locations in the Washington area and elsewhere that will feel “more contemporary” than the longtime Union Station fixture.
“These new locations will feature the same delicious southern cuisine that the restaurants have served for over 25 years in a more contemporary, high energy ‘bistro’ setting,” the company said. “The restaurants will also feature more options for the health conscious consumer.”
“We are looking forward to new and exciting things that we can’t wait to announce!” Smith said.
Union Station is also undergoing myriad changes, including the revamping of Columbus Plaza, repairs following a 2011 earthquake, creation of a new bus terminal and introduction of new quick food options along the entrance to Amtrak terminals. Further, the D.C. government is working to build a streetcar line that would enter the station from H Street Northeast and Amtrak has proposed a $7 billion overhaul and expansion of the station.
Another longtime staple, Barnes & Noble, closed recently and is being replaced by H&M.
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