When a four-star restaurant changes hands, it's usually pretty big news. So we were surprised to learn that Mot Hai Ba owners Jeana Johnson and Colleen O'Hare quietly sold their interest in their popular modern Vietnamese restaurant eight months ago.
Inspired by their travels in Vietnam, the two chefs opened the restaurant -- an instant hit -- in 2013. Last year they brought chef Peja Krstic to run the kitchen; his outstanding cooking helped the place earn a four-star review a couple months later.
Johnson and O'Hare sold the restaurant to their silent partners, Chris Panatier and his wife Courtney Panatier, in January; the couple asked Krstic to be their partner. Krstic said they preferred to keep the change quiet. "I just wanted to see how everything went," he says. "Finally I found myself a normal sous-chef, and I'm trying to go more modern with our food. I'm very excited about the menu and about the one coming up. We're making tofu in the house now."
But he's quick to add that a few of Johnson and O'Hare's original dishes are still on the menu. So if you're looking for shaking beef, or the green fried shrimp or the garlic noodles, your favorites are safe.
"It was kind of by design," says Johnson of the decision to keep the sale quiet, "to let them gain some ground and do their own thing."
"Colleen and I split in December," she adds. "It was a great run and we're still very, very close. She'll always be my best best friend." The couple was together for 11 years.
They remain business partners, however; they still own Good 2 Go Taco together. "We still work six days a week together, and getting along great," says Johnson. In fact they're both hands-on at Good 2 Go once again. "We've done a lot of changes to the menu and expanded past the quirky tacos to lots of salads, lots of plates -- we've revamped and redone." But, she adds, "We're done opening restaurants together."