In February 2020, chef couple José Chesa and Cristina Baez opened Masia with longtime collaborator Emily Metivier. The restaurant, within the downtown Portland hotel Hyatt Centric, was going to be one of the more ambitious projects for the three restaurateurs behind Ataula: It would serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a churro and a coffee counter as well as private events. The menu included things like paella, tortilla española, and croquettes, with an extensive collection of vermouths, served in an expansive restaurant space with multiple murals and a lengthy bar.
Within a month after opening, however, business plummeted for obvious reasons: the first COVID-19 cases were appearing across the state, tourism was going by the wayside, and Gov. Kate Brown began her first round of executive orders meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. “All the emails and the calls are the same: ‘Due to coronavirus, we’ve canceled our trip;’ ‘Due to coronavirus, we’ve canceled our employee meeting,’” Baez said back in March 2020. Eventually, Masia followed in the footsteps of many restaurants around the city and went on hiatus, following the state’s first onsite dining shutdown. After reopening for various forms of service between July and the end of the year, the restaurant went on a second hiatus in January, hoping to hold out for the spring.
Turns out, the restaurant will not reopen at all. Last week, Metivier sent employees an email announcing the closure of the restaurant. “It’s been decided that we will no longer be operating Masia beginning at the end of this month,” the email reads. “It’s been a really rough several months for us and it seems like things are not going to return to the expectations or the vision we had planned for the space.” Chesa confirmed the closure of both Masia and its 180 Xurros counter, and says Hyatt was “sympathetic and understanding” about the choice to leave. “We know they will succeed at their downtown location,” he says.
Masia had a promising first month, showing off some of the most beloved dishes from Ataula as well as new additions. The return of 180 Xurros was a welcome one for many, and it seemed like it was joining the growing ranks of stellar hotel restaurants in downtown Portland. Unfortunately, downtown Portland has been incredibly hard hit by the financial impacts of the pandemic, without the consistent flow of tourists and office workers; many hotel restaurants in the area have permanently shuttered, including Vitaly Paley restaurants like Imperial and Headwaters. Here’s hoping that the group’s other restaurant, Ataula, returns to its full glory, as planned.
Disclosure: Cristina Baez, a part of the team at Ataula and Masia, wrote a piece for Eater Portland in 2019.