Last summer, Michael Voltaggio hatched an ambitious and kind of crazy plan. He wanted to shut down his signature restaurant, Ink, and then quickly reopen a more casual spot nearby, which he would call ink.well. To our surprise, he pulled it off. Just two weeks after closing the doors of Ink, he had a new restaurant with a bigger bar, a more approachable menu, and shareable dishes.
“Unfortunately, we had to suspend operations at Ink.Well indefinitely due to an impasse among our partners. We want to thank everyone for their support including our talented staff and look forward to sharing news about the next project.” Voltagio told Eater.
Voltaggio is probably best known as the chef who used modernist techniques to propel himself to victory in Top Chef’s sixth season, defeating his brother, Bryan, in the finale. He also worked under modernist master José Andrés as chef de cuisine at Andrés’s Beverly Hills restaurant The Bazaar. There, the duo made unexpected and whimsical dishes such as foie gras wrapped in cotton candy and popcorn dipped in liquid nitrogen. He brought that sensibility to Ink when he opened it in 2011.
He wanted to do Ink.Well because the experimental chef felt his style changing and wanted a clean start in a new space to reflect that. “I create a dish first—then I figure out if a technique works,” Voltaggio told Robb Report last year. “Before, I would employ a technique and then force a dish into the technique, and it could ruin a dish.”
With the close of Ink.Well, Voltaggio only has fast casual restaurants remaining in LA: STRFSH, the sandwich spot he owns with his brother in Santa Monica, and an outpost of Sack sandwich shop at LAX (the other two locations of Sack have closed.) And he still owns a restaurant with his brother, a steakhouse located inside MGM National Harbor in Maryland. Voltaggio says he has projects on the horizon but hasn’t offered any details at the moment.