by Jennifer Katz

Cuba (Photo by Erik Hubbard)

Hillers will be simultaneously disappointed and elated at the recent restaurant news on the Avenue. After more than two years, Miguel Castaneda is closing Cuba. But the restaurant will be replaced by a new venture from celebrated local chef/owner Chip Roman.

Best known for his highly praised BYOB Black Fish in Conshohocken, Roman and chef Jason Cichonski (best known as the former chef at Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel) are opening a new restaurant on the Hill, the pair’s second bistro.

Retail recruiter Eileen Reilly has been working with Roman for the past eight months to find the right location on the Hill.

“I have to say that Chip found it (the location) on his own as well,” said Reilly. “It shows that we are a really good commercial district and that people want to be here.”

Roman’s Black Fish, which Philadelphia magazine named as the number one best place to eat in its annual 50 Best Places to Eat issue (just out this month), has garnered praise since it opened in 2007.

Roman, 31, who lives in Montgomery County adjacent to Chestnut Hill, honed his craft under the impressive oversight of well-known chefs, Marc Vetri and Georges Perrier.

According to Tina Breslow, spokesperson for Roman’s Black Fish restaurant group, said the Chestnut Hill location is one of several new restaurants the team will open in the near future.

Cichonski will be the opening chef before he moves on to the next venture, although there is no word on where that will be just yet.

The as-yet-unnamed Hill eatery is slated to open in March. Unfortunately that means Castaneda’s Cuba will leave sometime in mid-February although it will be closed within days.

In announcing his decision to close the restaurant, Castaneda thanked his patrons and asked them to keep coming in until the doors close at the end of this week.

“It is with mixed emotions that ¡Cuba! will close on Monday, Jan 10,” he said. “I say mixed emotions because of the sadness of closing a family dream but also for the happiness and gratitude of having the opportunity to meet you. All of us here at ¡Cuba! are better off because we have known you.”