Having just celebrated its 20th anniversary last October, Saratoga Springs’ Ravenous seemed to have a ton of momentum behind it. The entire month, the restaurant served limited edition meals, hosted special events and fed a steady stream of hungry fans. Despite that positive outlook—and a successful pivot to takeout and limited seating during the pandemic—owner David Zuka has decided to call it a day. After six years of owning the business, which itself is 21 years old, Zuka will be closing Ravenous on November 30.
“It was a good decision,” Zuka tells Saratoga Living, who has owned the restaurant for six years. “It was a personal- and family-motivated decision. My business was healthy, we were able to pivot, the community was fantastically supportive, the staff did great, and we’re going to go out on top.” Despite being at peace with the decision, Zuka did add that “there was an equal level of sadness and pain and trepidation in reaching it.”
While Zuka would not comment about whether the pandemic directly impacted his decision to close the restaurant, he did emphasize that he was leaving the business in good standing and that he was hoping to sell it. “The business and its assets are available,” he says. In other words, there’s still hope that a new owner or ownership group could swoop in and keep Saratoga’s only creperie alive. Zuka did say, in a prepared statement released earlier in the day, that “maintaining the restaurant in the midst of the 2020 pandemic [had] resulted in a restructuring of the business model to accommodate a new volume of takeout offerings,” but that the business had successfully made the pivot. “I’ve always preached and supported my staff in putting themselves and their families first, and now I’m following my own advice,” said Zuka.
Ravenous was first opened in 1999 by Tina Laino, her son Francesco D’Amico (who’s a senior photographer at Saratoga Living) and D’Amico’s future wife Lauren Wickizer. The three owners sold the restaurant to Zuka and his then-business partner Julie Raymond in 2014. Zuka, who took on sole ownership in 2018 and has spent more than 35 years in the food industry, tells Saratoga Living that he’s not retiring from the food business just yet. He will be leaving the area, though; “home” for him now will be the South Philadelphia area.
Ravenous will remain open through November 30 for lunch and dinner, Tuesday-Friday, and for brunch and dinner on the weekend.