Blue Nile Changes Hands

Ellana and Yosef Haile of Blue Nile Restaurant pause for a photo at the JFK School on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.

Chris Helms

Ellana and Yosef Haile of Blue Nile Restaurant pause for a photo at the JFK School on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.

One of JP’s most popular vegan and vegetarian restaurants, Blue Nile, is changing ownership. It faces a tricky exchange to keep a beer and wine license, however.

But not much else is slated to change about the 389 Centre St. favorite. New owner Yosef Haile, brother of current owner Ellana Haile, has been managing the place for the last three years.

The sister and brother team appeared Tuesday at a meeting of the Public Service Committee of the JP Neighborhood Council. The committee unanimously recommended acceptance of the ownership change.

The restaurant attracts patrons not only from JP but also from the greater Boston area. Yosef Haile told Jamaica Plain News a good number of customers come from Cambridge, for instance. One element in keeping that regional drawing power is maintaining a beer and wine license.

The restaurant will have to return its current license to the city in order to get a new one. Prospects look good that several beer and wine licenses restricted to JP will be available during the time Blue Nile needs one. For instance, as The Haven, another Hyde Square restaurant tries to upgrade its license to an all-alcohol permit, its beer and wine license could become available.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the restaurant gained strong support from residents. Dave Baron, who is a member of the JPNC, spoke in his capacity as a neighborhood resident.

Citing the restaurant’s place as part of the “fabric of the community,” Baron said it served the “Best Ethiopian food north of Adams Morgan,” referencing the well-known Washington, D.C. neighborhood. “They are offering excellent food and we as a community should be supporting them.”

Ellana Haile, founder of the Blue Nile, is spinning the restaurant off to her brother. She will keep majority ownership of Marathon Food, Blue Nile’s parent company. Haile hopes to build Marathon’s wholesale business.

The full JPNC will also vote on accepting the committee’s recommendation. The real power, however, rests with the downtown boards that often – but don’t always – follow the JPNC’s preferences.