Two months ago, owner Charlie Bryon was talking excitedly about his plans to relaunch and reinvent The Salt Exchange, his five-year-old restaurant on Commercial Street in Portland. New tables were custom-built. Bitters and sodas were being made in-house. The website was redone.
The new executive chef, Torr Kelso, was sous chef under former head Adam White for only two days before White left for New Hampshire, yet Kelso was key to the reinvention. He shared that he was already making minor tweaks to the menu in preparation for a full overhaul.
The two were set to usher in the changes this week with an industry event and then a public gathering.
Instead, last Friday brought this bombshell of a press release:
It is with deep regrets that I must inform you that The Salt Exchange has had to close unexpectedly. Late last week our chef and sous chef were invited to work at another restaurant with significant pay increases that I could not match. With very short notice and based on the totality of our circumstances, I must close and sell The Salt Exchange Restaurant.
No leads yet on where Kelso and a sous chef ended up. Bryon goes on to thank his talented staff and supportive customers, and he wishes his peers the best of luck. Zapoteca chef Shannon Bard and others in the restaurant community expressed their sadness at the turn of events. What will you miss most about the restaurant? Writer Nancy Heiser began a search for a comparable whiskey selection in Maine:
See the full text of the press release below. Best of luck to Bryon and all involved parties in their future endeavors.
It is with deep regrets that I must inform you that The Salt Exchange has had to close unexpectedly. Late last week our chef and sous chef were invited to work at another restaurant with significant pay increases that I could not match. With very short notice and based on the totality of our circumstances, I must close and sell The Salt Exchange Restaurant. It has been my sincere honor to serve the community of Portland and every guest that has graced our threshold. My time working with the very talented and supportive staff through every iteration of the restaurant has been a growth experience that I will always be grateful for. I have appreciated and found joy in the numerous opportunities to be a part of the community through groups like Preble Street, GMRI, The Center For Grieving Children, S.O.S., March Of Dimes, and so many others that support the needs of Greater Portland and Maine. Whether visual arts, writing, music, dance, or food this city is rich with talented and creative people who passionately offer their work to the community. The landscape of Portland is thickly populated by many good restaurants and I am very fortunate to have been counted among them, even if for just five years. I wish my peers the very best of luck and great fortune in their futures. To my guests I humbly thank you for your friendship, support, honesty, and kindness. I owe you my success and will look forward to seeing you soon. Cheers!
The Salt Exchange Restaurant