The need for strong, independent local journalism
is more urgent than ever. Please support the city we
love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

Imperial, a Cornerstone of Chef Vitaly Paley’s Hotel Restaurant Empire, Has Permanently Closed

Paley’s adjacent pizzeria in Hotel Lucia, The Crown, will also close next month.

One of the pillars of downtown Portland's dining scene has been taken down by the pandemic.

Imperial, WW's 2015 Restaurant of the Year, quietly announced on its website that it was permanently halting service. Eater PDX first noted the message.

"Imperial is now closed," reads a statement at the top of the page. "Thank you friends for your love and support over the years."

Chef Vitaly Paley—known for shaping Portland's food scene beginning in the '90s with Paley's Place on Northwest 21st Avenue—launched Imperial in 2012. The sprawling, dimly lit dining room anchored Hotel Lucia, feeding breakfast, lunch and dinner to tourists and locals alike, first under chef Ben Bettinger, who went on to Laurelhurst Market, then with Doug Adams helming the kitchen three years later.

Related: A Texas Transplant Found Inspiration for His First Restaurant in the Last Place He Expected: Home.

During Adams' tenure, Imperial's honey-and-hot-sauce fried chicken and glistening cuts of meat coming off of the wood-fired grill made it a standout. Shortly after Adams was promoted, he was chosen as a contestant on the reality show Top Chef, drawing viewers to Imperial to get a taste of the burgeoning celebuchef's dishes.

Imperial also marked the beginning of Paley's growing hotel restaurant empire. He opened the seafood-centric Headwaters inside the Heathman just blocks away in 2016. Two years later, he introduced cuisine inspired by the Ottoman and Roman empires at Rosa Rosa, located on the ground floor of the Dossier.

Both remain temporarily closed in the wake of COVID-19. Paley's Place has reopened following the March mandated shutdown for both takeout or dine-in service.

But there is more bad news for fans of Paley's restaurants: The Crown, the adjacent New York- and Neapolitan-style pizzeria, is also preparing to shutter. You can still order pies to eat onsite or to go through Oct. 8.