After what was planned as a temporary closure last month, Helen’s on the Pike won’t reopen, owner Helen Wasserman said Thursday.
Wasserman, the North Bethesda restaurant’s owner and namesake, said her continued medical problems led to her decision to close. She broke her wrist in December, leading to multiple surgeries and other complications.
“If I hadn’t gotten hurt, I’m sure I could have worked things out,” she said.
The closure comes four years after Wasserman, a longtime area caterer, first announced her plans to open a new restaurant in the former Addie’s building at 11120 Rockville Pike. Helen’s was beset by difficulties even before it opened, with construction delays, permitting problems and water issues delaying the opening for more than two years.
The restaurant, which opened in April 2016, was open for less time than it was under construction.
Wasserman said it was difficult to recover financially from those first two years of delay and to recoup the money she owed to the landlord for that time.
She said she appreciated the loyal following that Helen’s did have, but noted the restaurant never drew enough customers to be successful. She suggested one major problem was the restaurant’s lack of visibility from the street.
In a light-gray building—which had been yellow stucco in its Addie’s days—Helen’s served an eclectic menu of small plates as well as salmon, steak and eggplant parmesan.
Wasserman graduated from L’Academie de Cuisine, a Gaithersburg culinary school that also recently closed, before starting a catering business. She also briefly ran a restaurant, also called Helen’s, on 14th Street in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s.
While she’s recovering, Wasserman has handed the reigns of her catering business to another chef, but she plans to run it herself again afterward. She also wants to write a cookbook and said she’s looking for a chef partner interested in opening another restaurant with her.
“I’d like to start a place somewhere else,” she said. “I don’t want to give up.”