I found out Nava Thai closed a week or so after the fact, and so was happy I had by chance picked up lunch there just a week or so before they closed, last month. Random thoughts in random order:
1. I hope they relocate in Silver Spring and not Bethesda, for selfish reasons of convenience. And I hope they do it soon!
2. I don’t know the details of their lease situation, but it is hard to believe their landlord wanted to jack up the rent, considering the economy sucks and they were located in a tiny space in back of the Hung Phat grocery (best grocery name ever) that you would never find if you didn’t know it was there. Who else is going to take that space? I wonder if the whole building will be torn down to make way for gentrification.
3. They seem to have been doing decent business despite the recession, as has Ruan, but some other Wheaton restaurants evidently have not. For example, a recent weekly newspaper article noted business is way down at Marchone’s (excellent Italian subs and deli), and a neighborhood listserv recently encouraged us all to visit Mama Lucia’s (decent Italian subs and deli), which evidently is close to having to close up shop after 40+ years. I don’t know if this means Wheaton can no longer support Italian places (I wonder how Cristina’s is doing? It is empty every time I drive by, or on much rarer occasions, go inside) or if a broader group of restaurants is being hit hard.
4. I know some people think Nava cooks rings around Ruan; I think they’re both awesome. Nava wins on pad thai, but Ruan stacks up just fine on pad prik khing, among other dishes, and each restaurant has items the other doesn’t.
5. During what turned out to be my final visit to Nava’s Wheaton location, as I was waiting for my takeout, I noticed Dean Gold sitting at a table (unmistakable: big salt-and-pepper beard, Hawaiian shirt, known Nava groupie). I don’t know Dean personally, so I didn’t approach or say anything, but I sort of wish I had, since I’m sure he knew Nava’s number was up and it might have been an interesting and enlightening discussion. He seemed to have finished eating, and was sitting silently, elbows on table, deep in thought, didn’t move at all during my five minute wait. Was he pondering Nava’s fate? That night’s specials at Dino? The universe and everything? Or just digesting? In retrospect, it was an omen. Take heed, ye restaurateurs, when the Silent Dino of the Apocalypse shows up at your restaurant for lunch! Dino, by the way, is a place I would frequent if I lived closer to Cleveland Park; as it is, I have eaten there several times with much enjoyment, especially the wild boar pappardelle and the wines. Dino, Palena, Indique, all within a block of one another…