8Arm will close on October 8 after the sale of its Ponce building

Under new chef Hiro Endo, 8Arm has been delightfully reimagined as a Japanese izakaya.

Photograph by Martha Williams

8Arm Instagram Followers were surprised today, as owners Nhan Le and Skip Engelbrecht used the forum to announce the imminent closure of the beloved restaurant. Due to the sale of Ponce de Leon’s quaint brick building (which Le and Engelbrecht rent), 8Arm will cease operations on October 8.

Until then, 8Arm will do what 8Arm does best: evolve. 8Arm, as we know, will stop service on July 2. The following Thursday, Le and Engelbrecht will open the kitchen to local chefs (familiar and new) for pop-up dinners lasting from a week to a month (Thursday-Saturday only). Josh Fryer will continue to serve drinks from the 8Arm bar.

“We have always worked with the community and given back to the community,” says Engelbrecht. “We have always changed. With that in mind, navigating the change, we thought it was fitting. The people we work with are our friends, people we’ve always worked with, people we love. It’s our way of saying thank you.

The building next to 8Arm (which housed Paris on Ponce and Le and Engelbrecht’s Three Heart Roastery) caught fire in late 2019, and the owners refused to rebuild. Due to 8Arm’s proximity to space, it was purchased for refitting.

“We don’t know what the long-term future holds for our adorable little building, but it won’t include 8Arm,” the Instagram story read.

Engelbrecht declined to say whether he would consider reopening 8Arm elsewhere.

What started six years ago as a creative – some might say revolutionary – place run by the late chef Angus Brown has transformed many times over the years. The sudden death of the founding chef in 2017 forced Le to change course, promoting sous chef Kevin Remes. Then came Maricela Vega from Chicomecoatl (now known as Chico), touting her homemade tamales and vegetable menu. Later, 8Arm morphed into a Japanese izakaya with sushi, a natural wine bar, and patio seating.

“While our future may not be long, we are incredibly humbled by the talents and dedication of our staff and partners, and the support the community has given us over the years,” reads the statement. 8Arm’s Instagram story. “We hope the support will continue for all the chefs who pass through our kitchen and our remaining staff over the past few months, and beyond.”

The current lineup of returning chefs includes Vega and Duy Huynh of Yee’s Vietnamese. New chefs set to take over 8Arm’s kitchen include Cleophus Hethington of Ebi Chop Bar, Molli Voraotsady of SoSoFed and Mike and Shyretha Sheats of Plate Sale.

“We hope these next few months will be a celebration of the diversity of people, delicious food, refreshing drinks and great parties that have graced 8Arm over the past few years. Please help us step out in style and shine the spirit of Angus Brown,” the post read.

“We’re going to leave with a bang,” adds Engelbrecht.

Meanwhile, he and Le will continue to focus on their new Poncey-Highland seafood market, Fishmonger, as well as their upcoming comfort food restaurant, Small Fry.

Jennifer C. Burleigh