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Au revoir: Bistro 112 to close after nine years of service

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Sep 25, 2020

Tucker (seated center on steps) and her staff sit in front of Bistro 112, located at 112 West German Street, in downtown Shepherdstown. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — On Monday, Shepherdstown resident Deb Tucker publicly announced the closure of her French restaurant, Bistro 112, scheduled for this Saturday night.

The restaurant, which serves a variety of Parisian-inspired food, was founded in its current location, 112 West German Street, in May 2011.

“My decision to open a restaurant sprung from trying to figure out what I could do, when I retired in 2010, that would allow me to explore things I was familiar with — having lived in France and loving French food,” Tucker said, mentioning she retired from a career in corporate marketing, public relations and investor relations around the District of Columbia. “I moved to Shepherdstown when I found a restaurant to buy on Craigs List — Stone Soup Bistro. I fell in love with the town, not just the business.”

Tucker came to care so much for the town, that she even served as a town council member for a few years. But this June, one month before the Municipal Election took place, Tucker announced she was stepping back from running for reelection, to give her more time to devote to her business’ survival.

Unfortunately, in spite of all of her work, the COVID-19 Pandemic’s effect on her restaurant could not be undone.

“I exhausted the PPP and EIDL grants, but could still make things work when the weather was nice enough for people to eat outdoors,” Tucker said, referring to the Small Business Administration loans in the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. “It would have been helpful if there had been additional relief from Congress, particularly for restaurants, but none came.

“The cold weather was the final straw,” Tucker said, mentioning her business’ use of outdoor seating to follow social distancing guidelines proved difficult as autumn approached. “People want to eat indoors when the temperature dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s hard to eat mussels wearing gloves!”

After closing her business at the end of the month, Tucker will have to pay off some of the SBA loan money she used over the last few months, as she knows not all of it will be forgiven by the federal government. Hopefully, the funds from the sale of the bistro will more than cover that loss. The bistro, according to Tucker, will be sold with its furnishing, the kitchen equipment, the wine cellar, plates, glasses, etc. Additionally, the new owner will receive Bistro 112’s recipes.

“They will get all the secret recipes for our killer au poivre sauce and duck rub,” Tucker said, mentioning the new owner will be free to change the bistro however he likes.

“They need to do what is their vision, not mine. But we do have an awesome reputation for French food and French ambiance,” Tucker said. “I also think that the new owner might be more willing to create a safe environment to serve inside. Or use the brand to create something new — ready-to-cook gourmet dining packs, in home catering or grab-and-go lunch and dinner meals.”

Bistro 112’s patrons are invited to drop by one last time tonight and Saturday night, from 5-9 p.m.

“I’m hoping my dear patrons will stop by for a glass of Chimay or prosecco one last time,” Tucker said. “I am going to change things up a bit, though. In the front, I’m going to blare French music, turn on my Christmas lights, add some socially-distanced tables and offer cocktails and small complimentary cones of our famous pommes frites.”

Patrons with unused gift certificates can redeem them this weekend, or by purchasing items from Bistro 112’s French Marketplace, at www.bistro112.com.

Following the sale of Bistro 112, Tucker said she will plan on permanently retiring in Shepherdstown.

“Shepherdstown is so special,” Tucker said.