David Waltuck, the New York City chef whose downtown restaurant Chanterelle was regarded as a pillar of fine dining during its 30-year run, has closed Élan, his comeback restaurant, after less than two years of service.
Waltuck, who opened Chanterelle in 1979 with his wife Karen, consistently won four stars from The New York Times for his elegant, expert take on French cuisine. In a 1993 review, then-restaurant critic Ruth Reichl compared the restaurant to a serene temple, and lauded Waltuck for cooking “to an inner tune,” immune to trends. When he announced that Chanterelle would close in 2009, after a planned renovation never came to fruition, Waltuck was just as sad as his guests.
“The closing of Chanterelle was not something I wanted, Waltuck told the New York Daily News. “I thought somehow, someone would hand me another restaurant. That didn’t happen.”
Then, in 2014, Waltuck returned with Élan. The two-star restaurant was at its best on nights when Waltuck was timeless, not trendy — but after decades in the industry, the chef was ready to depart from the increasingly expensive restaurant business.
“I would say it’s mainly economics,” Waltuck told the New York Times. “The rent is high — not inappropriate. But we have a small restaurant, and it has not generated the level of business we had anticipated, and we don’t know what we can do to change this.”
After a final service on March 12, Élan closed its doors, and the space on 20th street in Manhattan’s Flatiron district is now available for rent.
“We may not have had the longest run, but we introduced many people to David's cuisine and made a lot of new friends,” Waltuck and his business partner, George Stinson, wrote in a farewell message on Élan’s website. “Although the doors are closing, the friendships and memories will remain.”