Citronelle Under Construction As Chef Michel Richard Expands To New York

Even as Hurricane Sandy was quickly approaching
the nation’s capital this Saturday, groups
were holding steadfast for their reservations
at Central Michel Richard. One group outside the
restaurant was eagerly waiting for French chef
Michel Richard’s American restaurant to open, but
Kulene DiCerce fondly remembered her experience
at Citronelle.

It was “one of the most memorable meals of my
life,” said DiCerce.

If DiCerce is right, Richard’s cuisine is about
as memorable as the man himself. Inside Central,
Richard was thrilled to hear about his fans’ enthusiasm.
He clasped his hands and asked, “Where
is she?” Richard has been getting praise like hers
from Washingtonians since Citronelle opened at
the Latham Hotel in 1993. The restaurant closed in
July for repairs to the structure of the Latham Hotel
caused by water damage.

Richard did not expect the repairs to take as long
as they are. “One morning, they called me,” he said.
“They said, ‘Michel, we are going to be closed a
few days.’ And in a few days, now it is becoming a
few months or a year.”

The renovation of the Latham Hotel and
Citronelle is already in process. Citronelle has been
gutted, and Richard is excited about its rebirth.

“They are going to have to hire a designer to
redesign the restaurant. I want that restaurant to be
a fresher version. A new Citronelle,” said Richard.
“That’s what I want. A nicer, a better looking restaurant.”

A designer has not been chosen yet for the redesign.
Mel Davis, Richard’s spokesperson, said she
expects Citronelle to reopen in the second quarter
of 2013, in time to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Meanwhile, Richard has been plenty busy.
Central has introduced a pre-theatre menu, and he’s
just been invited to open a new restaurant at the
New York Palace Hotel. The new, yet-to-be-named
project is something of a homecoming for Richard,
who opened his first pastry shop in New York when
he first came to America in the 1970s.

“I’m going back now, 38 years later. The accent’s
still the same. L’accent is still the same. Same
French accent. I am very excited. And, you know,
the reason I am so excited is that I’m opening a
pastry shop.”

Richard will be making numerous trips to New
York to prepare to open the restaurant but reassures
us that D.C. is his home. “My wife loves it,” said
Richard. “It is a nice town. I love to be next to the

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