It is a headline that has seemed inevitable. The Trace, the sleek and chic restaurant and watering hole at 2000 Belcourt Avenue, is closing. After tonight’s final clearance dinner, when everything on the menu will be marked down 50 percent, owner Ken Perry will turn out the lights and, he says, possibly return to the healthcare field from whence he came.
Founded in 1997 by Herb Allen and Greg Shockro, The Trace first traded hands in 2003 when restaurateur Danny York took over. Since purchasing the place three-and-a-half years ago, Perry has faced a series of challenges, including an eviction lawsuit, rumors of closing, the advent of no-smoking legislation and a shifting economy.
While legal wrangling over the lease is ongoing, The Trace is no longer under an eviction notice. And Perry recently declared the restaurant a 21-and-up establishment to circumvent the new no-smoking laws. But, he says, “It’s time to move on to the next thing and let someone else take a shot.”
Just who will take the next shot is still unclear. Attorney Adam Dread—coincidentally, Dread was the first general manager of Faison’s restaurant, which predated The Trace in that location—has a list of prospective tenants. Dread is working with the Hayes family, who own the property, to select a business that complements the neighborhood. Dread is unusually tight-lipped about the process, but he says the transaction could happen fast.
Randy Rayburn, owner of neighboring Cabana and Sunset Grill, says he will not throw his hat into the ring. Meanwhile, Perry will leave all the restaurant equipment on site.