Urbain 40 is Closed

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Urbain 40 fountain

Urbain 40, the French-tinged American bistro at the Dellagio Plaza on Restaurant Row, has closed. Its final service was Saturday evening.

The restaurant was opened in late 2015 by local attorney Jaafer Choufani with a little help from his father, who operates the restaurants at the Morocco pavilion at Epcot and Paradiso 37 at what is now Disney Springs. Paradiso just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

When Urbain opened, its chef was Jean-Stephane Poinard, a French native who had previously been cooking at St. Augustine’s Bistro de Leon. Poinard left Urbain within two years and Timothy Keating, who had previously been with Flying Fish Cafe, took over the kitchen as its director of culinary operations. Keating, too, parted with the company last March.

Rashid Choufani told me by phone Monday that he sold the restaurant about a year and a half ago to two of his staff members who had previously worked at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort and in the Moroccan pavilion restaurants. But shortly after the sale, Choufani said, one of the new owners developed health issues that prevented his full participation, and the other partner, he said, wasn’t able to handle the operations himself. A message sent to one of the owners was not immediately responded to.

Despite its designation as an American bistro, Urbain 40 had a decidedly French air, with an elaborate decor reminiscent of a typical Parisian bistro and with a commanding view of the Dellagio’s grand fountain.

When I first reviewed it, in 2015, I said, “Orlando has a new contender for best new restaurant, and the list of Central Florida chefs vying for national recognition and awards is almost certainly to add another name.” Even the good ones struggle.

According to sources, the restaurant space already has another tenant lined up.