Citing a chef shortage and desire to refocus on “tequila salvation,” The Saint founder Quentin Ertel says the Capitol Hill restaurant will close its kitchen on Sunday, Sept. 3.

“There will be tacos,” he said. “I’ll just be enjoying them in other people’s restaurants.”

The Saint opened at 1416 E. Olive Way in 2008, and was ranked fourth in the nation for best taco spot by Food & Wine in 2015.

“Food has always played a supporting role, and you know it’s been nine years, and in business, as in life, you really want to focus on things that are the most fun for you,” Ertel said.

While the kitchen is full of talented staff, Ertel said, food service is being provided at half the staff that is needed. Stopping the food side of The Saint will allow Ertel to put more energy into the bar, he said, and the kitchen will stick around to support that effort. Staff will still be in there, but focused on making syrup, infusions and gastrique for blood orange margaritas, he said.

“Most of them will continue to work there after the break,” Ertel said. “I’m lucky enough to have quite a few friends and colleagues in the business, and so we’re actually helping our kitchen staff with new jobs around town.”  

Following a brief closure to renovate the kitchen area, The Saint will reopen in early October with a greater focus on agave-inspired cocktails and dozens of tequilas and mezcals.

The seating capacity won’t change, but there will be a new lounge space.

“There will be some surprises in there,” Ertel said, “but I’m not ready yet to say what they’re going to be.”