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Posted at 12:35 PM ET, 04/ 3/2009

From Willard Room to Private Room

By Julia Beizer

The Willard InterContinental Hotel announced yesterday that, as of April 13, its grand fine-dining space, The Willard Room, will no longer operate primarily as a stand-alone restaurant. The room will become a venue for private events of up to 175 people. The public will only be able to dine at the restaurant during Sunday brunch and special occasions like Easter and Mother's Day.

On April 13, the Willard Room will become a private event space. So, if you want to try the restaurant's Alsatian Chicken Baeckeoffe, make the recipe at home. (Michael Temchine for The Washington Post)

"We had a larger emphasis on people who wanted to have parties here," said Barbara Bahny-David, a spokesperson for the hotel. She acknowledged that the "general trend" of people choosing to dine in less opulent restaurants was a factor in the hotel's decision. The hotel has offered other restaurant and banqueting positions to all of the Willard Room's chefs and staffers.

We've seen a few fine dining places cut hours or close up shop lately. And that brings me to a question Anya von Bremzen posed succinctly in this month's Food & Wine: Should fine dining establishments die? Personally, I'm more a burger-and-a-beer, tapas-and-a-glass-of-wine gal most days a week, but von Bremzen's article points out that fine-dining establishments can be "creative laboratories" for innovative cooking, creating techniques that often trickle down to less expensive restaurants. She closes with a money quote from Daniel Patterson, chef-owner of Coi in San Francisco. A great restaurant, he told her, "creates an illusion of a life where everyone is happy to see us, every need is met and everything tastes better. And we need this now more than ever."

What do you think?

-- Julia

By Julia Beizer  | April 3, 2009; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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