The Washington Post

Auction offers patrons a chance to own a piece of Palena

The corpse isn't even cold, but creditors are already selling off assets of the recently shuttered Palena, including its Italian wood-burning oven, the source of so much goodness over the years, whether bagels or pizza or chef Frank Ruta's signature roast chicken.

Own a piece of Palena history: The cafe's Italian wood-burning oven is one of dozens of items for sale in an online auction. (Rasmus Auctions) Own a piece of Palena history: The cafe's Italian wood-burning oven is one of dozens of items for sale in an online auction. (Rasmus Auctions)

Rasmus Auctions is handling the "emergency" liquidation, a short, multi-day online auction ordered by EagleBank, which loaned Ruta some of the funds to expand Palena Cafe in late 2010. The emergency nature of the auction became necessary, Ruta told me, because he must vacate the Cleveland Park space by Saturday, May 3.

"All the personal effects have been removed or are being removed," Ruta says. "Everything else is from the business."

More than 150 items are for sale, representing every aspect of the 13-year-old restaurant, from hand-washing sinks to the light fixtures by which patrons read the menus (which are also available). Chairs, tables, pots, ovens, ranges, a pasta cooker, dishes, floor mats, cabinets, a wine cooler, a wine rack, the wine inventory, waste cans, a kitchen scale, pot sinks, refrigerators, a sound system, a meat slicer, an espresso grinder, deep fryers, utensils, stemware, mirrors and even an ice cream machine are all available via the online auction.

Ruta wouldn't mind buying the Italian wood-burning oven himself, if he could figure out how to get it out of Palena. (Apparently, the brick oven was fork-lifted into the kitchen before the doors were installed.)

"It would make my son's hockey team very happy if I had a wood-burning oven in my back yard," the chef says.

To bid on any item, you must register with Rasmus, obtain a bidder number and agree to a whole host of conditions. You can inspect the items from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The auction begins to close around 1 p.m. Thursday, a spokesperson with Rasmus notes.

Tim Carman serves as the full-time writer for the Post's Food section and as the $20 Diner for the Weekend section, a double duty that requires he ingest more calories than a draft horse.



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