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Longtime Lee Highway Restaurant Cassatt’s Changes Hands

Cassatt’s Kiwi Cafe and Gallery is now under new management, after opening 16 years ago along Lee Highway.

Longtime owner Art Hauptman told ARLnow that he sold the New Zealand-themed eatery, located at 4536 Lee Highway, about a month ago to a father-son duo.

Hauptman declined to offer many details about the sale, other than saying he felt it was “just the right time to sell to somebody that will take care of it and keep it going.”

“I thought I needed to take a break and I handed it over to people with a lot of experience in the restaurant business,” Hauptman said. “They seem committed to keeping the Cassatt’s concept going.”

Hauptman says he met the new owners, Mario and Marco Jelencovich, shortly after he closed his other restaurant in Arlington: the Bistro 360 wine bar in Rosslyn.

A third member of the Jelencovich family, Michael, approached Hauptman about setting up a “pop-up” bar at the space on Wilson Blvd in late May. “Parlay” temporarily took over the location, with the D.C. bar briefly hosting some World Cup watch parties at the location.

Though that partnership was only temporary, Hauptman says he quickly thought of the Jelencoviches when he decided to move on from Cassatt’s. He hopes that the new owners will largely “keep [Cassatt’s] the way that it’s been” over the years, and even help build up the restaurant’s dinner business a bit more, though he’s not sure of their exact plans.

The Jelencoviches didn’t respond to calls or emails seeking comment on what they plan to do with the restaurant, though it’s remained open as usual since the transition. However, it seems the new owners have cancelled all scheduled live performances, according to an email from local group “Kitchen Gorilla” to its fans that was forwarded to ARLnow.

Overall, Hauptman says it’s bittersweet to leave behind a business he cared so much about, but he has no regrets about what he accomplished at the restaurant.

“I’m very proud of what we did at Cassatt’s, proud how it became a community institution,” Hauptman said. “I hope it stays that way.”

Photo 2 via Google Maps

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