A restaurant that was once lauded by Food & Wine and Vogue as one of the “most anticipated” restaurants opening in 2020 has now closed.
Khora, the former restaurant at downtown’s newest hotel, the Kinley, is listed as permanently closed on Google and its website has been taken down.
Before it opened, Khora received national attention due to its staffing dream team that included chefs Kevin Ashworth and Edward Lee, pastry chef Megan Ketover and general manager Blair Bowman. The opening came after the COVID-19 shutdown early in 2020 but before the vaccines became available in 2021. The culinary team was so impressive that Esquire magazine announced plans to name Khora one of the nation’s best new restaurants that year.
However, those plans fell apart when the hotel’s corporate owners fired Ashworth and Lee, followed shortly by the departure of Ketover and Bowman late in 2021. Esquire’s published list did not include a Cincinnati entry, and within a few months, the restaurant closed.
Khora quietly reopened sometime in 2022, and while the original iteration of Khora focused on pastas made from unusual grains (the restaurant’s name “Khora” derived from the Khorasan grain of Middle Eastern origin that some Ohio farmers have revived), the new menu had shifted focus away from that. CityBeat’s dining critic Pama Mitchell, who had visited Khora when it first opened and again after the relaunch, called her second experience there lackluster compared to the first.
Mitchell says when trying to understand the evolution of the restaurant, she hit a wall in navigating the Kinley-Tribute Portfolio-Marriott bureaucracy.
“Nobody wanted to talk about why management pulled the plug on the restaurant that the company said was “unprofitable” after one year in operation, even after the departing chef publicly called it “unfair” to abandon ship in the middle of a pandemic,” Mitchell wrote in her recent review of Khora.
However, at the time, Zackary Oxley, the general manager of the Kinley, did tell Mitchell that Tribute Portfolio was planning a “new direction” for Khora in the coming weeks and months, but wasn't able to offer details. He would only say that the restaurant’s food would be “more approachable” and “designed for the local community, as well as guests from out of town who want to experience what Cincinnati is all about.”
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