Chef Paul Qui will close his East Austin restaurant Kuneho this weekend, the chef said in a text message Wednesday morning, confirming a Tuesday afternoon post from Eater Austin.
“Not quite sure what the future will hold for that space,” Qui said, adding that he hopes to remain in the building where he still holds a lease.
The James Beard award winner and former “Top Chef” winner originally opened the restaurant at 1600 E. Sixth St. in 2013 under the name Qui. He closed that restaurant in the summer of 2016, following a March arrest on charges of assaulting his girlfriend, and reopened at the beginning of this year. Qui discussed his arrest, his struggles with drugs and alcohol and his decision to close Qui in an August 2016 with the Statesman. Kuneho (reviewed by the Statesman this spring) found the chef shifting his focus back to sushi and the “perfect bites” he crafted during his tenure at Uchi and Uchiko. The restaurant struggled to garner the excitement of Qui’s original venture and had some uneven spots, but was strong enough to earn the #23 spot in this year’s Austin360 Dining Guide.
Qui, who operates Pao by Paul Qui at the Faena luxury hotel in Miami Beach, continued looking outside the Austin market earlier this year, opening wood-and-wok concept Aqui in Houston this summer. He also opened modernist kaiseki Otoko with the New Waterloo Group at South Congress Hotel in 2016 (though his name does not appear on the restaurant’s website). Qui’s legal troubles have extended beyond the assault charges from 2016, which are still pending; earlier this year, the Statesman reported that Austin-based Farm to Table, LLC had sued Qui for about $25,000 for goods it provided for the chef’s namesake restaurant.