Following a week of drama in which the celebrity chef shuttered his most famous Cleveland restaurant, Sawyer's future in Columbus appears uncertain.
James Beard Award-winning chef Jonathon Sawyer abruptly closed his acclaimed Cleveland restaurant Greenhouse Tavern on Saturday night, and now his involvement in SeeSaw (906 N. High St.), the Short North gastropub-meets-nightclub that bears part of his name, appears to be in flux.
Last Friday, Sawyer was still listed as partner/executive chef on the SeeSaw website. Just below, Nate Hall, formerly of 1808 American Bistro in Delaware, was also listed as executive chef. But by Monday, Sawyer’s name had been removed from the website and his photo replaced by Hall’s.
When asked whether Sawyer is still involved at SeeSaw, Hall responded via instant message, writing that Forward Hospitality Group is “currently assessing the situation as a company” and plans to respond later this month. Aldo Narcisi, a partner with Forward Hospitality, confirmed that SeeSaw’s business partners will be meeting this month before making an announcement. Attempts to reach Sawyer and Bobby Rutter, COO of Forward Hospitality, have been unsuccessful. Cleveland’s Forward Hospitality opened SeeSaw last August in partnership with Sawyer and Jason Kipnis, the former Cleveland Indians second baseman (and likely new Chicago Cub).
It all started last Thursday, when Cleveland media outlets reported that Greenhouse Tavern, named one of Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants in 2009, was shutting down on Feb. 16. After the news broke, Sawyer told Cleveland.com in an interview that the East Fourth Street restaurant was coming to the end of its lease and that his company’s financial troubles contributed to his decision to close.
Greenhouse is the third of Sawyer’s restaurants to shutter since January 2019, including Trentina and Noodlecat, both located in the Cleveland area. Lawsuit records from Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court show Sawyer’s businesses have racked up tens of thousands of dollars in debt over the years. Heading into last weekend, Greenhouse staffers began speaking out about the ownership, and by Saturday night, a sign posted to Greenhouse Tavern’s door announced that it would shutter permanently following dinner service, more than a week ahead of schedule.