Words & Deeds

This Boise restaurant was a fine-dining hit. Then it changed. Now it’s closed.

What is the lifespan of a restaurant?

Ever wonder why that restaurant on the corner always seems to change? It turns out the lifespan of most restaurants are pretty short.
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Ever wonder why that restaurant on the corner always seems to change? It turns out the lifespan of most restaurants are pretty short.

If you blinked while cruising down State Street, you probably missed Epek, a fine-dining experiment in the former State & Lemp building.

After opening in April, the restaurant at 2870 W. State St. recently closed.

No other information was available. Owner and chef Christian Phernetton did not respond to a phone call or emails. But the dining room is empty. All social media accounts have been removed.

Phernetton, who bought State & Lemp in 2018, initially kept the name as he tweaked the menu. Then in March, he announced that the restaurant would shutter temporarily and reinvent itself. A gifted chef, Phernetton planned to saturate the new Epek menu with organic, locally sourced ingredients — many from The Chef’s Farm, which he owns in Dry Creek Valley.

The fresh, diverse concept was not simple to digest. Phernetton cooked up a range of price points, including $2.50 “taco Tuesdays,” three-course dinners on Wednesdays and Thursdays for $55, and a 15-course tasting menu on Fridays and Saturdays for $111.

Armchair restaurateurs probably predicted the outcome: Epek fail. But so quickly? The ambitions were not without precedent.

The small dining area at the restaurant has been cleared of furniture and decor. Michael Deeds mdeeds@idahostatesman.com

The original, intrepid State & Lemp conquered unexplored Treasure Valley territory in 2013 by offering only expensive, prix-fixe tasting menus at a communal table. A seat cost more than $100, including wine. After enthusiastic reviews and a run of James Beard Award nominations, State & Lemp earned a reputation as a regional force that elevated Boise’s restaurant scene.

Still, the space was small. Limitations loomed. In 2018, the State & Lemp culinary squad exited to pursue new ventures. Two members of the visionary team, chef Kris Komori and co-owner Remi McManus, now plan to open Kin restaurant and lounge later this year in Downtown Boise.

State & Lemp signage still hangs on their former building. There’s no obvious indication that Epek and its farm-friendly aspirations were there, except for tomato plants bearing unripened fruit along the sidewalk outside.

What might blossom next in the space — or wilt — is anyone’s guess.

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and opinion columnist at the Idaho Statesman. Since starting at the Statesman as a news intern in 1991, he has been a sportswriter and features/entertainment editor. Deeds also has freelanced for The Washington Post, Relix, Country Weekly, Velo News, Beer Advocate and more.