Restaurant Rumblings

Austin's top chef pulls the plug on acclaimed namesake restaurant

Austin's top chef pulls the plug on acclaimed namesake restaurant

Qui restaurant Austin patio exterior
Chef Paul Qui is closing his eponymous restaurant. Photo by Bonjwing Lee/ Qui

In what could be the most high-profile restaurant closure of the year, Paul Qui is shutting the doors of qui. The eponymous restaurant, located in bustling East Austin, will hold its last service on Saturday, September 3. He plans to "return to his roots" and debut a new concept, Kuneho, in the space.

Kuneho will specialize in sushi and Japanese dishes; Qui's experience under Uchi's Tyson Cole and as executive chef at Uchiko will certainly come into play. Accompanying Kuneho is a new craft cocktail concept dubbed Rabbit Hole.

"I'm so grateful for the support I've received from the Austin community and for everyone who has come to visit over the years to help make qui such a success," said the Top Chef and James Beard winner in a statement. "Evolution is important to me in my cuisine, and I'm excited to offer a fresh perspective on traditional Japanese cuisine with the opening of Kuneho."

After the final service at qui, the space will undergo a renovation. Kuneho should debut in November.

The past year has been a busy and tumultuous one for Qui. The local celebrity chef opened two new concepts in Austin — the well-received Otoko and a brick-and-mortar version of Thai-Khun — in addition to Pao in Miami.

However, he garnered national media attention when he was arrested on assault charges in March. In his first interview since the incident, Qui opened up to the Austin American-Statesman about his struggle with drugs and alcohol. After a stint in rehab, he is looking to refocus his efforts as a chef and dedicate more time to his team.

Of his path to redemption, Qui says he needs to "earn it."