The revolving door at 846 W. 36th St. has just made another turn. Pique is out, and Luigi's is back in.

It gets complicated.


First the bad news. Pique is not happening. Cyrus Keefer has abandoned his plans to open a 25-seat "micro restaurant" in the Hampden location, which had been home, until recently, to Jeanine Little's popular neighborhood eatery, Luigi's Italian Deli & Market.

Little closed the doors on Luigi's in late January, just after selling the business -- its recipes, equipment and name -- to Chris Doiron, a Hampden resident. Before the sale went through, though, Little let Doiron know she had decided to end her lease early.

That meant Doiron would be buying a business without a home. But in February, Doiron said he was close to signing a lease for a new Luigi's location in Hampden, just a few blocks away from the original location.

Now with Pique out of the picture, Luigi's is back where it was. Doiron said he is close to signing a lease for Luigi's original storefront space at 846 W. 36th St., which he said he wants to renovate before opening his version of Luigi's sometime around the first of April.

As for Pique, money was the reason for its demise, Keefer said. His financial partners backed out of the project, and his own attempts at raising start-up funds for Pique through the crowdsourcing website Kickstarter did not bring in enough money.

"It's a bummer," said Keefer, who was formerly the executive chef at Fork & Wrench and Birroteca. "It's been a rough road."

Keefer said his next step is uncertain but he doesn't regret leaving his job at Fork & Wrench.

"There was a chance for me to go out on my own. You gotta try," he said. "I'm talking to some friends in Rehoboth Beach. And maybe I'll go back there. My family is up for the venture, just a change of scenery. I wouldn't be doing exactly what I want at first, but [relocating] might open a door. It's the sacrifice you have to make. It's just a whole lot easier to open a restaurant in southern Delaware than it is in Baltimore."

Keefer added: "It's bittersweet. I'm a little heartbroken that I couldn't open something here."