It’s no secret that the restaurant business is volatile, and that restaurants come and go with sometimes surprising speed. Especially go.
Restaurants close for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the proprietors simply want to move on to something else, like other (perhaps less demanding) restaurants or different lines of work altogether. Sometimes they want to spend more time with their families, or they simply grow tired or age out of this strenuous line of work.
In other cases, the reasons are financial — rising rents, mandated minimum wage increases, falling profits from downturns in business, expensive legal entanglements, etc. — or reflect real estate issues like the refusal of landlords to renew leases or the decisions of property owners to demolish or repurpose buildings. Evolving tastes and new ways of ordering meals can have an effect, too. See, for instance, all these ways restaurants are going to change.
Sometimes personnel issues are involved, as when partnerships dissolve or key figures leave and can’t be easily replaced, or when chefs or restaurateurs are called out for #MeToo offenses, and their abuses drag the whole place down.
And sometimes, to be honest, restaurants close because they just aren’t very good. (Click here to learn 16 signs you’re eating in a bad restaurant.)
In what sense can restaurant closings can be said to be sad? Perhaps because some restaurants have become vital parts of their communities, helping to define and unify them, and so their absence will be keenly felt. Perhaps because they open with great promise and predictions of a bright future, only to be brought down by poor business decisions or bad timing.
The saddest of all, though, are the restaurants that close because the chefs or restaurateurs in charge have betrayed the trust of their employees, harassing and abusing them, and ultimately driving customers away or making the continued existence of their establishments untenable. Their behavior can be life-altering for their direct targets, but it also affects all of their employees by robbing them, often almost overnight, of their livelihoods.
To assemble this list of the saddest restaurant closings of 2019, 24/7 Tempo consulted scores of restaurant news and review sites and local and regional magazine and newspaper sites from across the nation.
While these are some of the most significant examples of shuttered restaurants, scores and probably hundreds of other places shut their doors this past year. One came and went in less than a year’s time, while another had been around for almost two centuries. Virtually all of them leave behind diners who doubtless now feel at least a little bit bereft.