Saté Kampar Closes in East Passyunk

As coronavirus shutters restaurants across the country, one of Philly's best restaurants is closing for a different reason.

Photo courtesy of Saté Kampar

As the news of several coronavirus-related closings hits, Saté Kampar owner Ange Branca announced she’s closing her restaurant in its current location at 1837 East Passyunk Avenue for reasons unrelated to coronavirus. The restaurant’s last night in the space was Sunday, May 17th, but Branca says she plans to continue serving takeout and meals for frontline workers out of a commercial kitchen.

Branca cited issues with her landlord, including his refusal to come to the table to renegotiate the next five years of their lease, as cause for her decision to leave the space. Branca said that in addition to continued conflict, there was no way they could afford the pre-negotiated rent hike, especially in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. To help with the costs of relocating, she has created a GoFundMe page.

“We intended to stay in this space in the long-term,” Branca said, explaining that she and her husband, John, invested more than $200,000 in the space to get it ready to open the restaurant. “We love this neighborhood, and we love the space, but the situation has just made it impossible for us to survive.”

Branca is in the process of finding a commercial kitchen from which she plans to continue serving takeout and cooking meals for hospital workers. No location has been finalized, but Branca says she hopes to be back up and running in the next two weeks. Though they plan to continue operating, Branca and her husband say they’ll wait to look for a brick-and-mortar.

“No one has any idea what things are going to look like in three, six, eight months,” Branca said. “We want to wait and see what makes sense. In some ways this is more sad to us because we had been able to figure out how to stay afloat even through covid. It’s been really important to us to continue to serve our community – we’ve been serving close to 500 meals per week to hospital workers and food insecure families and we’re going to continue doing that.”

Since its opening in 2016, Saté Kampar has been recognized as one of the best restaurants in the city, even receiving a James Beard nod in 2017. The closure is a huge loss for the restaurant scene on East Passyunk, which has seen a lot of turnover in the last few years including the closure of Will and Brigantessa, and the relocation of Townsend to Center City.

“I’m really proud of what we built in that space,” Branca said. “We introduced a lot of people to a new cuisine, and we got a lot of positive attention … but the thing I’m most proud of is the diversity of our guests on any given night. We were one of the first restaurants in the area to serve halal meat, which is more common now — but at the time was rare. Wherever we end up, I want to continue that spirit of bringing people together over food.”