Please Restaurant in Over-the-Rhine Has Permanently Closed Its Doors

Chef and owner Ryan Santos thanked his guests, employees and investors for "making this weird little idea such a success and special place for so many."

click to enlarge Please - Photo:

Beloved (and CityBeat favorite) Over-the-Rhine restaurant Please has permanently closed its doors.

Chef and owner Ryan Santos announced the news on social media Thursday, saying, "There are a lot of reasons for this decision, many of them pandemic related (and too many to get into detail). During our downtime, and with a lease renewal approaching, the reflection on and reality of the physical and mental health toll of the restaurant on myself just wasn’t sustainable for another 5 years."

He also thanked his guests, employees and investors for "making this weird little idea such a success and special place for so many."

Although Please was little — in a literal sense; the 30-person space was narrow and cozy with an open kitchen and intimate back bar — it made a big impact on both the local and national culinary scene. And it wasn't just because of its colorful #pleasepotty bathroom, which frequently landed on "best" lists, including on Food Network Magazine's "most instagrammable restaurants."

CityBeat has been covering Santos' culinary journey for a decade now, starting in 2011 when he hosted Arts & Lettuce pop-ups with the Brush Factory and up through his restaurant opening on Clay Street.

The food was inventive. In the beginning of 2020, Santos was a semifinalist for the 2020 James Beard Award in the Best Chef: Great Lakes region, and Please was named the city's best restaurant by Cincinnati Magazine. Please also almost always landed in the top three in the "Best Menu (Most Inventive)" category in CityBeat's annual Best Of Cincinnati issue, including this year. 

Please closed at the very start of the pandemic, and Santos spoke with CityBeat back in May 2020 about the logistics of reopening, saying, “It’s not even just about reopening and opening back up with whatever safety and health precautions there (are)," he said. "It’s, ‘What sort of restaurant are we when we come back?’ I don’t think we’re the same restaurant, with the same menu and the same format that we were before.” 

The close quarters of the restaurant made social distancing impossible, and Santos' Crohn's disease put him in a high-risk category for contracting COVID. Please did launch private dinner options to salvage some lost revenue, and in November 2020, the restaurant began hosting single-party groups in the back garden bar space for private five-course meals. 

But, as he says in his post, it wasn't sustainable.

"I will remember all the great connections, people and experiences, I got to have through my time at Please and living in Cincinnati, very dearly for a long time to come," he writes. 

So will we. But we'll especially miss those aebleskivers.

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