Nine months after chef Homaro Cantu's untimely death, Cantu's widow has announced the sale of Moto Restaurant to the Alinea Group, owned by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. Moto's last night of service will be on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, ending a 12-year run. The fine-dining science cuisine trailblazer retained its Michelin star this year, with a kitchen now helmed by Chris Anderson. Moto opened in January 2004.
"Looking to the future, I am pleased to have come to an agreement with Nick Kokonas, Grant Achatz and the Alinea Group," Cantu's widow Katie McGowan said in a statement. "I am inspired by their innovation and pioneering spirit, and wish them all the best with their new project. I can't wait to see their vision and thank them for taking over the space as I begin a new chapter."
The Alinea Group released a statement via social media saying it was a bittersweet moment for them, and that now wasn't the time to talk about their future plans for the space. "We have a great deal of respect for Moto, chef Cantu and all of the great chefs and service professionals who worked there for the past 12 years. Moto was a pioneering restaurant in many aspects of the industry."
An email to Kokonas wasn't immediately returned, but after this move he has acquired both of Cantu's Fulton Market restaurants. Roister should open soon in the former iNG space, and in addition to Next and The Aviary on the corner of Morgan Street, Kokonas and Achatz now own nearly the entire block. Check out the full statement attributed to McGowan below, and stay tuned for more info.
Today, we came to an agreement to sell Moto Restaurant to the Alinea Group. This bittersweet decision comes after deep reflection of the lasting impact my husband, the late Chef Homaro Cantu, made with his first restaurant.
A true visionary, Homaro fused his love of food with his genius for science, and forever changed the landscape of modern dining when he opened Moto twelve years ago. Fervent about revolutionizing how, where and what we eat, he brought new possibilities to light in a way that challenged traditional thinking and inspired conversation worldwide about the future of food. Moto was the wellspring of this passion.
Homaro's enthusiasm was contagious, and there is nothing he enjoyed more than fostering talent and bringing the staff into his magnetic, creative fold. The team members that have graced us with their talent over the years championed and fostered Homaro's vision as fervently as though it were their own. They have become family, and I am forever grateful.
Moto wouldn't have thrived without our guests - many of whom traveled from around the world - to dine with us. Whether they joined us just once, or came back time and time again for a new journey, their hunger, curiosity and delight were the spark that always propelled Homaro. I am thankful to them for spending their precious time with us.
Looking to the future, I am pleased to have come to an agreement with Nick Kokonas, Grant Achatz and the Alinea Group. I am inspired by their innovation and pioneering spirit, and wish them all the best with their new project. I can't wait to see their vision and thank them for taking over the space as I begin a new chapter.
Moto's final day of service will be Sunday, February 14. Please join us for one last adventure.
UPDATE: Current Moto chef Chris Anderson answered a few questions about the news and about Moto's last months. He has no hard feelings about McGowan selling Moto, calling the decision "completely understandable."
Anderson is extremely proud of the restaurant going out with success—and a Michelin star. "I'm a chef, what I want to do is cook," Anderson writes. "One of my proudest moments was retaining that Michelin star. We did a fantastic job this year. I'm very proud of my team." He says he and the rest of the team at Moto have "some things in the works" for the future.