Mark’s Kitchen owner Mark Choe has posted a farewell letter following the restaurant’s closure after 32 years in Takoma Park.
We reported in January that Choe would retire and close the restaurant, confirmed by Laura Barclay of Main Street Takoma. “We regret to see this Takoma Park institution close, but wish Mark Choe well as he begins his retirement,” Barclay said in an email to the Source.
The restaurant was put on the market for sale later that month, but no buyer has been identified.
“I’m retiring because I’m too tired. Very tired,” Choe said in a February interview with DCist. “Thirty-two years is a long time.”
Mark’s Kitchen amassed a loyal following over the years, with reviews calling it a “reliable place for a bite” and “a long-time local experience“. In February, Takoma Park Mayor Talisha Searcy honored Choe as one of three retiring Takoma Park business owners, along with Mark Howard of Takoma Framers and Eric Sepler of Kinetic Artistry.
The full text of Choe’s letter is below (courtesy of PoPville):
To My Friends in Takoma Park and Beyond,
Even at night, when I’m alone sweeping the dust from beneath the tables, I never feel that the restaurant is empty. I see children’s feet swing, with the knowledge that time will bring their toes closer to the floor, closer then, to boundless futures. I see laborers rushing bites in-between shifts, long-estranged relatives in leisurely conversation, and lovers young and old renewing their mutual mastery. I see a million faces or more, and yet it all strikes me as one, a great social organism which I have nurtured as my own these past thirty-two years.
I am proud to say that my hard work, with the assistance of many devoted employees, created a space where life itself was created and fostered. That being said, it is then true that it is as much the product of the community as it is mine. To that end, I am grateful beyond the bounds of gratitude; it is because of your love and support that we were able to make this beautiful creature. You have also been particularly kind to me as an individual. The gentle humanity I have received over the years will last me to my grave and beyond. Though it saddens me to leave it, I am soothed by the certainty that the life Mark’s Kitchen has given to the community has impacted generations. I hope that you will remember Mark’s Kitchen, as I know I will remember you.