Serenidad, the Latin soul food restaurant from chef Deborah VanTrece (Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours), closes just shy of five months after opening in Cascade Heights. But VanTrece, who owns Oreatha’s at the Point nearby, plans to replace it with a new restaurant she will lead, citing the closure comes down to impending competition from similar restaurants to Serenidad opening in the neighborhood.
VanTrece also says “significant plumbing repairs” needed at the restaurant added to the decision to close Serenidad.
“Among the new developments coming to Cascade Heights are two new Latin-focused restaurants. I am thrilled that this neighborhood is attracting new businesses. That was our goal,” a statement from VanTrece provided to Eater reads. “But I also believe that building a ‘dining destination’ will take all of us working together and providing the diversity that today’s diners are looking for. So rather than compete with our neighbors, I’ve decided to close Serenidad and replace it with a new and unique restaurant inspired by my earlier life abroad.”
While Oreatha’s centers soulful homestyle dishes from around the globe on the menu, Serenidad focused on the soulful cooking roots of the Caribbean and Latin America, including dishes styled after those found in countries like Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, and Brazil. Both restaurants draw inspiration from VanTrece’s early travels throughout the world while working as a flight attendant.
As for the new restaurant, VanTrece tells Eater it will be completely different from Twisted Soul, Oreatha’s, and Serenidad and likely lean into her experiences visiting countries throughout Europe.
“I have always used my experiences traveling the globe as inspiration for my approach to cooking. This concept will be no different,” VanTrece says.
VanTrece partnered with Cascade Heights developer Shea Embry in Serenidad and Oreatha’s and will continue the partnership with the new restaurant. VanTrece published her first cookbook in 2021 and was recently named a 2023 semifinalist for best chef Southeast by the James Beard Foundation.
People were initially alerted to the closure Monday evening via an Instagram post by Serenidad chef Whitney Thomas. In the post, Thomas reveals she was informed of the restaurant’s immediate closure earlier that day and was in “disbelief”, but hopeful for the future. It’s unclear whether Thomas will lead the kitchen at the new restaurant.
“The staff and I were told yesterday of the immediate closing. I actually had the terrible job of breaking the news to my restaurant Serenidad kitchen team,” Thomas tells Eater. “We all have been working so hard on putting out the best possible food and giving our customers an amazing experience.”
Thomas also says she was unaware of the plans to replace Serenidad with a new restaurant when informed of the closure on Monday.
“As we all know, the restaurant industry is a tough space to be in, especially for queer, Black women, but I think ethics should still have its place. And it’s our duty to remember that.”
Update, February 22, 8 a.m.: This story has been updated with new details and comment from Deborah VanTrece.