On Monday, December 18, Eduardo Jordan’s soul food restaurant JuneBaby announced on Instagram that it would be closing “in its current form” after a blowout New Year’s Eve service, ending the run of one of the most talked-about restaurants in Seattle in recent years.
When JuneBaby opened in 2017, it was widely celebrated by local and national critics; Jordan won two James Beard Awards the following year, including the prize for best new restaurant, which a restaurant run by a Black chef had never won before. Jordan had already been on the rise through some of the country’s top restaurants (his resume includes stints at the French Laundry and Woodinville’s Herbfarm), but that year cemented his status as one of the industry’s major stars.
Perceptions of JuneBaby and of Jordan changed in 2021, when a blockbuster Seattle Times story detailed multiple allegations by 15 women of sexual misconduct including unwanted touching, which Jordan mostly denied before issuing a (now-deleted) statement on Instagram that read in part, “I apologize unequivocally to all whom I hurt, mistreated, and placed in positions of discomfort because I unwittingly crossed personal and professional boundaries that should never have been breached.” Staff at JuneBaby and Jordan’s other restaurant, Salare, quit en masse. Salare closed for good (it had already been scheduled to close), and JuneBaby temporarily shut down until early 2022.
Earlier this year Jordan went on KIRO radio’s Gee and Ursula Show to say that he had apologized personally to people and that JuneBaby had instituted more sexual harassment training and adopted an anonymous reporting system for HR violations. “I’ve been through a lot of training myself,” Jordan said in that interview. “As a person of color, I never knew the importance of having a therapist. I’ve put many hours into therapy. I’ve also hired a life coach to help me get that counseling and advice.”
Jordan tells Eater Seattle that since JuneBaby’s reopening, “We’ve seen a number of past employees come back and work with us... We’ve had a lot of support from our regulars and the neighborhood. I’m pretty blessed to be able to say that we were able to be open despite everything that we’ve seen and been through.”
But Jordan says that increased costs for labor and food were making it difficult to keep the restaurant going. He also says he has been suffering from the chef version of writer’s block. “The creativeness isn’t there,” he says.
He plans to “take a break and recalibrate” while spending more time with his family, but emphasized that this is a pause, not the end. “I want to make sure that I’m making the right moves in my next venture and understand the market more, analyze what people want and need and make sure that Seattle is ready.”