Khe-Yo has closed permanently

Khe-Yo, the most excellent Laotian restaurant on Duane run by chef and co-owner Soulayphet “Phet” Schwader, has closed permanently. R. caught the sign, and I stopped into Forge to check with Marc Forgione, who was a part owner. There is no saga here, just the end of an era for what was a really great — and original and reliable — Tribeca spot.

The restaurant opened on July 29, 2013, in the old Duane Park space — so days short of 11 years. Not an easy feat in this city, and especially in this business climate now.

“Phet wants to move on to new things,” Marc said yesterday. “It’s all good — it’s just time. We are so happy and blessed to be there for 11 years, and of course, thank you to everyone in the neighborhood who supported it.”

It’s no secret that running an independent, a la carte restaurant is not easy these days — payroll, the cost of supplies, keeping up with regulations, it all adds up. Paul Grieco once told me that he makes two cents on the dollar running Terroir. I imagine he is not alone.

Khe-Yo was my spot for out-of-towners, for a taste of something you probably could not find easily, even in other metropolitan regions. Schwader called his menu “Laotian-inspired”: while the flavors are traditional Laotian, the presentation and ingredients were often different.

 

 

“I was born in Laos, but I grew up in Wichita,” Phet said in 2013. “There are actually a lot of Laotians in the Midwest. There’s a Laotian grocery store in Wichita! But when I moved to New York, I was like, Where’s the Laotian community?” So when the time was right to open his own place — Schwader had worked with Marc for more than 10 years at that point — he decided to open the restaurant.

“Every menu item is something I grew up eating,” he said then. “When my family came to visit a few weeks ago, that was the real test. They were the ones who did the cooking when I was a kid — I did the dishes. I asked them, ‘Am I on the right track? Is the flavor what we grew up with?’” The answer was yes.

I hope Phet will keep us posted on any future plans.

 

8 Comments

  1. Easily one of my favorites. It always was vibrant there.

  2. Oh! We are so sad! We loved Khe-Yo. All the very best to Phet and the team.

  3. Thank you Chef for your incredible restaurant and hospitality! Thank you also for all you’ve done for Taste of Tribeca – especially helping us feed the first responders in Covid. We miss you already!

  4. I’m so sad as well. I also would take out-of-towners there. I wish Chef the best. He’s not only super talented but a great person.

  5. so sad to have learned of the closing! i went two times, after my early 2023 visit to laos, and was looking forward to going again. a real loss for the city. best of luck to chef phet…

  6. Best of luck with your next adventures.
    It was awkward, though, that just days before they accepted our reservation for June 25th. At least a note would have been nice, rather than us showing up hungry at a shuttered restaurant.

  7. I was raised in Wichita and that’s where I fell in live with Lao food. I called it Asian soul food! Phet, you’re food took me right back to that special memory of my first time eating Tom mak khun with fresh sticky rice out of the basket cooked by my roommate while we were students at WSU! This is a major loss ro NYC culinary scene, but I wish you all the best in your next adventure. I can tell that you’ll definitely Bring It! Now we just have to get more Hun Lao to move to Brookyln and bring the culture…cause the papaya salad over here…ugh, they don’t use fish sauce, lime, badek…just BLAND!

  8. I’m crushed. Just moved back to the neighborhood and was looking forward to this being a go to spot. All the best.

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