Capella Hotel Hires Frank Ruta of Palena As Head Chef

After being forced out of Cleveland Park last spring, Frank Ruta has been hired as the executive chef at the Capella Hotel on 31st Street, NW, in Georgetown.

Ruta and his concept, Palena, became a neighborhood and city institution, but both were given the boot by the landlord over back rent payments that reportedly reached more than $100,000. Ruta called the incident “sad, embarrassing and somewhat painful” in an email to the Washington Post when the restaurant closed.

Since Palena’s closing, Ruta has taken charge over Bread Feast, a multi-course dinner series held at Mark Furstenberg’s Bread Furst bakery on Connecticut Avenue in Van Ness. He will cook his last dinner there on Dec. 19 before moving to the Capella. He has expressed hope, though, that the Bread Feast tradition continues in some shape or form.

The Capella opened its Grill Room and Rye Bar with great fanfare last year with Swedish chef Jacob Esko at the helm to provide patrons with a luxurious dining experience to match the hotel’s rooms, which range in cost from $500 to $7,000 a night. Esko left the Capella in June and is now the executive chef at W Barcelona in Spain.

Ruta arrives at the hotel’s restaurant with a mission to bring in more Georgetown locals. In an interview with the Washington Post, Ruta mentioned the possibility of lowering price points by expanding menu options beyond the Grill Room’s staples of seafood and steak in an effort to make the Grill Room a regular destination for Georgetowners. He also said that he expects to bring more Italian and French influence to the menus.

Before taking over the kitchen officially, Ruta is expected to take time to fill out key staff positions and evaluate the hotel’s kitchens. He told the Washington Post that having “final say” over staffing was a key part of his negotiations with the hotel’s management team.

Ruta starts at the Grill Room and Rye Bar on New Years’ Day.

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