Once a rum bar and restaurant serving up Caribbean-style food to patrons, Isla made the switch late last year to Peruvian cuisine and cocktails but couldn’t seem to find its groove. The sister spot to French-focused Peche announced this morning on social media that Isla has closed.
The announcement came through Chef Julio-Cesar Flórez, a Peruvian native who helped the restaurant redirect its culinary program to the flavors of South America.
“Isla closed,” he wrote in a Facebook post that was then re-posted on Isla’s Facebook and Instagram. “It was my pleasure and honor to bring Peruvian food of this quality to this city. I hope to do it again soon, it has always been my mission, and I know I won a lot of hearts during this short period.”
Owner Rob Pate, who opened the city’s first absinthe bar with Peche, took over the short-lived Pleasant Storage Room next door to Peche in late 2014, when the rum bar styled after a popular Cuban watering hole abruptly closed. He decided not to change the focus of Isla from its former incarnation, creating a menu of tropical drinks and food.
Isla became the place to go for almost exclusively tiki-style cocktails paired with island fare. It then transitioned to more of a Caribbean cantina until Flórez’ Peruvian influence. And for Pate, through all of his project’s changes, Isla remained a special place because of the people who worked there to make it what it needed to be.
“It is never an easy thing to close something that so many people have put a great deal of effort into,” he said in an emailed statement. “We were blessed at Isla to have a great core of employees, and I think that is what hurts the most. We will take a couple of weeks to figure out our next step and go from there.”
Isla’s last day was Sunday, when it hosted a final brunch.