Yesterday, longtime Portland chef Jenn Louis announced on Twitter that Saturday was her last dinner service at N Williams Israeli restaurant Ray. In the tweet, she also alludes to her future: “I’m ready for a gentler pace, and new experiences. I’ve got a few things in mind, but a sabbatical is first!” This is big news considering Louis has worked in the restaurant industry for 25 years, appearing on Top Chef Masters and Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs list in 2012.
Friends often know the best things to say. Last night was the final dinner service @rayrestaurant. Maybe bittersweet, but I am ready. I’m grateful for an awesome career. I’m ready for a gentler pace, and new experiences. I’ve got a few things in mind, but a sabbatical is first! pic.twitter.com/f2dyuiA1RC— ⚡️Jenn Louis ⚡️ (@jennlouis) September 30, 2018
Before Ray, Louis owned two other restaurants, Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern, which received positive reviews from the likes of the Oregonian and Portland Monthly. Before that, Louis worked the line at Wildwood, often considered one of Portland’s pioneering farm-to-table restaurants. She was recently nominated for a James Beard Award for The Book of Greens, her vegetarian cookbook.
In May, Louis let the world know that Ray was up for sale via a Facebook post, saying her “next chapter” might involve work on a book or a line of “CBD wellness products,” so maybe that’s somewhere down the line for Louis. She chose not to comment about her next steps.
Following its opening in March 2017, Ray got a shrug of a review from PoMo critic Karen Brooks, as well as a hiccup this year when a promotional fried chicken special on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death went pseudo-viral. Still, the restaurant was a favorite for its loyal fans, scoring a glowing review from the Portland Mercury, as well as a spot on the Los Angeles Times tour of Portland.
Regardless of her latest restaurant’s relative success, Louis’s biggest legacy in Portland is as a champion of relaxed farm-to-table dining. Louis says those interested in her next steps should follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
Update: October 1, 2018, 1:21 p.m.: This article was updated confirm the closure of the restaurant and include ways to stay in touch with chef Louis.
• Ray [Official]
• Ray [Twitter]
• Jenn Louis [Facebook]
• Portland Chef Jenn Louis Will Sell Ray [EPDX]
• Jenn Louis [Top Chef]
• Food & Wine Announces 2012 Best New Chefs in America [Food & Wine]
• All previous Lincoln coverage [EPDX]
• All previous Sunshine Tavern coverage [EPDX]
• Seriously laid-back surroundings: Review of Sunshine Tavern [The O]
• Honest Like Abe [PoMo]
• All previous Wildwood coverage [EPDX]
• Wildwood restaurant closing: Share your memories of the Northwest Portland institution [The O]
• The Book of Greens [Amazon]