Le Cep Restaurant, a flashy Cultural District haven for contemporary European fine dining, is closing Sept. 8.
David and chef Sandra Avila opened the European-style, $85-per-dinner chef’s-menu restaurant three years ago with “a lot of passion and a lot of love,” but the market wasn’t ready, David Avila said.
“It came time for us to decide whether to change to something more market-friendly or move on, and we decided to move on,” Avila said.
The Avilas considered whether to downscale prices, add a full bar with cocktails or switch from delicate Parisian nouvelle cuisine to Spanish or Mediterranean dishes, he said.
Le Cep, 3324 W. Seventh St., is one of the most elaborate restaurants ever to open in Fort Worth. It was ranked one of the 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America last year by San Francisco-based OpenTable.com.
In 2014, Le Cep was listed by Texas Monthly as one of the state’s 10 best new restaurants. The writer expressed shock at finding such an artful restaurant in the middle of “barbecue, beefsteaks and country club fare.”
The $85 dinner — $155 with wine pairings — includes eight courses handmade by Sandra Avila with elaborate presentations served in a quiet, sleek, minimalist setting.
A weeknight dinner offered four courses for $45, but Le Cep struggled to draw weeknight business, he said.
Two nearby Cultural District fine-dining restaurants, La Piazza and Saint-Émilion, offer a lower price point and $25 early-bird specials some weeknights to draw diners.
“We became a special-occasion restaurant,” said David Avila, “and businesses thrive on weekday business.”
Reservations through Sept. 8 are available at opentable.com.
The Avilas have not decided what to do next, said David, a former Alcon Labs executive: “Sandra loves to cook.”