Special Report

Saddest Restaurant Closings of 2022

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As if the pandemic wasn’t hard enough on small businesses, the country is now facing an unprecedented labor shortage, with over 10 million job openings and only six million unemployed workers to fill them. In addition, inflation, high fuel prices, and the rising cost of raw materials have posed insurmountable challenges to many independent businesses, including restaurants.  

Across the country, many beloved establishments shut their doors permanently this year. Culinary hot spots including New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and New Orleans have all lost famed eateries, whether they were run by promising new chefs or were long-time neighborhood hangouts. Many of these restaurants began to struggle as they were forced to shut their doors indefinitely at the start of the pandemic. (Many didn’t even make it this far. These were the saddest restaurant closings of 2021.)

To compile the saddest restaurant closings of 2022, 24/7 Tempo consulted scores of restaurant news and review sites, as well as local and regional magazine and newspaper sites from across the nation.

Besides eateries that have closed due to the effects of the pandemic, some were unable to negotiate a new lease with their landlords. One unfortunate establishment failed to recover after being gutted by a massive fire, while another slunk out of the limelight as the chef-owner settled a class-action lawsuit brought by its employees for rampant abuses and unpaid wages. 

On the other hand, some of these restaurants, notably those that have been in business for three or four decades, have closed because their owners decided to retire and enter the next – more relaxing – phases of their lives. 

Click here to see the saddest restaurant closings of 2022

Of course, it isn’t only local and independent restaurants that are shutting down. Many national chains, including Subway, Taco Bell, Applebees, and TGI Fridays, have closed numerous locations across the country. Others, including Hale & Hearty and Old Country Buffet appear to have closed down completely. (Not all chains are struggling, however. Here are the 50 most successful restaurant chains in America.)

Source: Yelp via Scott B.

House of Tricks
> Location: Tempe, Arizona

After a successful 34 years in business, the owners of this acclaimed New American restaurant announced their retirement in December 2021, stating that “It’s always hard to leave a business that you love and that has been so much a part of our lives.” They continued to serve their loyal customers until June 2022.


Source: Courtesy of Hotville Chicken

Hotville Chicken
> Location: Los Angeles, California

Kim Prince – descended from the family that created Nashville-style hot chicken in the first place – will be closing her doors on December 18, three years after she opened her flagship restaurant in the competitive landscape of Los Angeles. Prince will continue to sling hot chicken through pop-ups and a soul food truck called DulanVille, and hopes to reopen Hotville in the future.

Source: Courtesy of Massawa

> Location: San Francisco, California

Serving Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine since 1986, Massawa recently became embroiled in a legal battle with its landlord over alleged unpaid rent, closing its doors in June. The restaurant’s closure leaves North Beach without an Ethiopian option; however, there is a possibility that it will reopen in a new location.

Source: Yelp via Ocean N

Roosevelt Tamale Parlor
> Location: San Francisco, California

A vibrant Mission District staple, this more than 100-year-old Mexican Restaurant shut down after enduring two years of COVID-related financial struggles and increasing costs. The latest owners ran the business for 10 years before calling it quits after many attempts to recover from the pandemic losses.


Source: Yelp via Wulfstan C

> Location: Santa Rosa, California

This 53-year veteran steakhouse in Montgomery Village has announced that it will close by the end of the year after failing to reach a lease renewal agreement with the landlord. Luckily, the national chain has plans for opening a new location in Rohnert Park, just south of Santa Rosa, in 2023.

Source: Courtesy of Pelago

> Location: Chicago, Illinois

After 15 years in business, this beloved Italian restaurant in the Raffaello Hotel will be closing down as its lease comes to an end. The hotel was recently bought by a developer, who wishes to turn the building into apartments and denied a lease renewal. Chef-owner Mauro Mafrici will serve the restaurant’s last, decadent meal on New Year’s Eve.


Source: Yelp via Terry S

Uncle J’s Bar B Que
> Location: Chicago, Illinois

Known for their juicy rib tips and sausage links, this family-owned South Side barbecue outpost was one of the few neighborhood eateries that carried on the area’s dying tradition of smoking in a glass-sided “aquarium smoker.” Uncle J’s closure in October unfortunately added it to the long list of traditional Chicago barbecue joints that have shuttered in the last 10 years.

Source: Courtesy of Thomas Henkleman

Thomas Henkleman
> Location: Greenwich, Connecticut

This inn and restaurant in the posh Belle Haven neighborhood was a local and celebrity favorite for over 20 years, known for its modern-traditional French food. It was recently sold to a developer, who closed the place last January 1 for renovations, including adding suites to the inn. The restaurant will likely open again under new ownership as soon as the building update is completed.

Source: Courtesy of Bernard's

> Location: Ridgefield, Connecticut

After 21 years in business, husband and wife co-owners Bernard and Sarah Bouissou sold their upscale French restaurant, housed in a colonial-style farmhouse, to a new team of restaurateurs. Bernard’s last day will be New Years Eve, but the New American restaurant and wine bar in the works will feature tributes to Bernard’s French fare.


Source: Yelp via Jason B.

Clark’s Fish Camp
> Location: Jacksonville, Florida

An eclectic Southern seafood restaurant decked out in taxidermy, Clark’s Fish Camp sustained significant damage during Hurricanes Matthew and Irma in 2016 and 2017, respectively, leading to immense renovation bills. After being flooded by Hurricane Ian this year, the owner of the 47-year-old restaurant finally decided to call it quits and sell the location to pay off debts.

Source: Courtesy of Café de France

Café de France
> Location: Winter Park, Florida

One of the oldest restaurants in the area, as well as a launching point for many local chefs, Café de France opened in 1982 and has been owned by a husband and wife team since 1985. After 37 years of dedication to their customers, German and Dominique Gutierrez decided to close the establishment in order to spend more time with their family and to travel.


Source: Courtesy of Floataway Cafe

Floataway Cafe
> Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Opened by James Beard Award-winning husband-and-wife chefs Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison in 1998, this iconic farm-to-table restaurant was housed in a converted industrial warehouse, with an open courtyard that was reliably packed with patrons on nice days. As the rustic eatery’s 25-year-lease comes to an end this December, the couple is looking forward to new ventures.

Source: Courtesy of Brett G via Yelp

> Location: Chicago, Illinois

After a decade in Lincoln Square, this Michelin-starred restaurant – known for its whimsical, often-foraged, nature- and pop-culture-inspired cuisine – has announced its closure. This comes two years after chef Iliana Regan, who opened Elizabeth, sold the restaurant to her collaborator Tim Lacey. Despite the closure, Regan will continue on in the restaurant world and Elizabeth will reopen as Atelier, a fine dining tasting-menu establishment.

Source: Courtesy of Emeril's Delmonico

Emeril’s Delmonico
> Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Opened in 1998 in the former home of an iconic century-old restaurant, Emeril’s Delmonico – the Emeril in question being Emeril Lagasse – was a staple of Creole cuisine that featured house-made charcuterie, dry-aged steaks, signature cocktails, and live music. The restaurant closed its doors tentatively in March 2020 due to pandemic restrictions and stayed shuttered until it finally announced its permanent closure this February.


Source: Courtesy of NOLA

> Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Another restaurant by Emeril Lagasse to succumb to the pandemic, NOLA served a prominent role in the New Orleans culinary scene for 30 years. After closing in 2020 due to pandemic restrictions, the restaurant seemed poised to reopen in 2022. Instead, the NOLA team announced that the restaurant would stay shuttered and a new chain establishment would take its place.

Source: Courtesy of Cesco Osteria

Cesco Osteria
> Location: Bethesda, Maryland

After over 30 years in the DC area and 25 years in Bethesda, Cesco Osteria closed after its owner announced his retirement. Hailing from Florence, chef-owner Francesco Ricchi, who earned numerous awards and accolades for this Italian restaurant, now plans to travel and spend time with family during the next phase of his life.


Source: Courtesy of Hannah H. via Yelp

Max’s Kosher Cafe
> Location: Wheaton, Maryland

In what felt like a huge loss to its community of regulars, this long-running falafel and shawarma eatery closed in July after 28 years. Many patrons had been eating at Max’s for almost three decades. As the owners couldn’t negotiate a suitable lease to stay on location, they have announced that they are working to relocate the cafe near the site of their other business, a kosher supermarket.

Source: Courtesy of Meimei Z. via Yelp

Gourmet Dumpling House
> Location: Boston, Massachusetts

A Chinatown mainstay for 15 years, Gourmet Dumpling House came to the end of its lease this June and closed its doors for good. Marked by perpetually long lines of patrons eager for soup dumplings, ox tongue, and spicy pig ears, the restaurant enjoyed a successful run and more than a few celebrity visits. Luckily, a sister restaurant, called simply Dumpling House, remains open.

Source: Courtesy of Ristorante Fiori

Ristorante Fiori
> Location: Boston, Massachusetts

A North End go-to for classic Italian dishes, Ristorante Fiori will be closing after Christmas Day dining service. Owner Fiori Colella announced the closure of the 40-year-old business on Facebook, remarking that he is ready to retire and spend time with his family, and go hunting and fishing.


Source: Courtesy of Keefer Court Bakery & Cafe

Keefer Court Bakery & Cafe
> Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

After nearly four decades of serving Chinese baked goods and Hong Kong-style dishes to long lines of customers, the owners of Keefer Court have decided to retire. The Kwan family, including owners Sunny and Paulina and their daughter Michelle (who worked in the bakery for the past five years), dedicated their lives to their business and are ready for a much-needed break.

Source: Courtesy of Rachelle N via Yelp

Khyber Pass Café
> Location: St. Paul, Minnesota

A family-owned restaurant serving authentic Afghan cuisine, Khyber Pass Café was known for its use of organic and all-natural ingredients, its aromatic house-made chutneys, and its high-quality lamb dishes. After 37 years in business as one of the only Afghan eateries in St. Paul, the owners announced the surprise closure on Facebook. While they gave no reason, they did thank their loyal customers for making the restaurant what it was.


Source: Courtesy of Sirin D. via Yelp

La Paloma Mexican Restaurante
> Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Open since 1989, La Paloma was a gem of made-from-scratch Mexican cuisine, from the house-fried tortilla chips and custom spice blends to the family recipe chile rellenos and tamales. The popular establishment unfortunately closed April 25 after losing its lease.

Source: Courtesy of Dave D. via Yelp

Serenity Café
> Location: Toms River, New Jersey

A classy New American and Italian restaurant, Serenity Café was owned by chef Greg Manning and his wife, Jeanette, and featured a rotating, seasonally inspired menu. One of the few higher-end establishments in Toms River, the decade-old restaurant’s closure at the end of September came as a surprise blow to a community that has lost numerous other businesses since 2021.

Source: Courtesy of Los Amigos

Los Amigos
> Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey

A renowned Mexican restaurant that has been serving Atlantic City since 1979, Los Amigos announced its closure in June, citing economic troubles related to the poor labor market as well as rising ingredient and fuel costs.


Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Howard Johnson’s
> Location: Lake George, New York

Howard Johnson’s was once the largest restaurant chain in the U.S., and was known for its orange roofs, 28 flavors of ice cream, and fried clams. Its location in Lake George – the last Howard Johnson’s restaurant in existence – finally closed this June, having survived for 70 years. Although the iconic restaurant is no more, Howard Johnson by Wyndam hotels are still thriving, with over 300 locations around the country.

Source: Courtesy of Mission Chinese

Mission Chinese
> Location: Brooklyn, New York

After Mission Chinese opened in San Francisco in 2010 to critical acclaim, co-owner Danny Bowien brought the genre-bending Szechuan-inspired restaurant to New York City, opening three NYC locations by 2018. Accusations of racial discrimination and workplace abuse tainted the popular restaurant’s reputation, but pandemic-related issues were the final straw. The final location, in Bushwick, closed in July, making the flagship West Coast restaurant the last one standing.


Source: Courtesy of Belle Harlem

Belle Harlem
> Location: New York City, New York

Upon its opening, this intimate chef’s-tasting-table restaurant, with only 12 seats at a communal table, was praised by the New York Times. After only six years, co-owners Darryl and Melissa Burnette announced their closure in November without giving a specific reason for their decision.

Source: Cindy Ord / Getty Images

> Location: New York City, New York

Caroline’s on Broadway, a famous comedy club and dinner lounge that got its start 40 years ago in Chelsea, is closing after its New Years Eve show. The club’s relocation to Times Square in 1992, when the area was still considered dangerous, helped to change the face of the neighborhood. Owner Caroline Hirsch recently announced that she decided not to renew the lease after her landlord increased the rent.

Source: joreks / Getty Images

Loeb Boathouse
> Location: New York City, New York

An iconic lakeside restaurant in Central Park, the Loeb Boathouse has appeared in films such as “When Harry Met Sally” and “The Manchurian Candidate.” It opened in 1950, becoming a quintessential NYC dining spot. After months of increasing costs, and despite a bid by an anonymous millionaire to keep the restaurant afloat, the Boathouse finally closed in October, and all 163 employees were laid off.


Source: Courtesy of Casa del Chef Bistro

Casa del Chef Bistro
> Location: Queens, New York

After working at the acclaimed Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Ecuadorian native Alfonso Zhicay opened this Woodside farm-to-table fine dining restaurant. Despite the area’s plethora of food carts and bargain dining options, Casa del Chef became a destination for those seeking seasonal, ingredient-driven fare. The pandemic however, took a toll on this small chef-owned eatery, and despite great efforts to keep it afloat, Zhicay closed the restaurant in June.

Source: Courtesy of Pigs Out S. via Yelp

Clyde Common
> Location: Portland, Oregon

Once the coolest hangout in Portland, where the “Twilight” and “Portlandia” casts would gather after shooting, Clyde Common can be considered a casualty of the pandemic. What started as the downtown destination for craft cocktails and elegant fare – as well as an inspiration to a variety of chefs from both coasts – never recovered from the pandemic closures that fractured the business. After a 14-year run, owner Nate Tilden announced the permanent shuttering in January.


Source: Courtesy of Joye R. Via Yelp

Nana’s Seafood & Soul
> Location: North Charleston, South Carolina

After serving Gullah cuisine for over a decade as one of the premier Lowcountry restaurants in Charleston, the mother-and-son team behind Nana’s decided to take a break from running the business. Although their last day was November 20, they are continuing operation of Nana’s food trailer, so fans of their fried whiting and garlic crabs can still get their fix.

Source: Courtesy of Dandgure's Classic Southern Cooking

Dandgure’s Classic Southern Cooking
> Location: Nashville, Tennessee

An old-school “meat and three” cafeteria, where customers choose between delectable Southern-style meats and then pick three side dishes, Dandgure’s reached legendary status in its 30-plus years in business. Featured in Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” and famous for its daily specials, the business closed in June as proprietor Dan Robinson retired.

Source: Courtesy of Jacala Mexican Restaurant

Jacala Mexican Restaurant
> Location: San Antonio, Texas

One of the oldest family-owned Mexican restaurants in San Antonio, Jacala opened in 1949 and was a popular institution until this March, when it burned down in a devastating fire. Despite intentions to rebuild, the daughters of the original proprietors have battled rising costs and numerous obstacles to reopening their parents’ beloved restaurant.


Source: Courtesy of Matt U. via Yelp

The Willows Inn
> Location: Lummi Island, Washington

Known as an exclusive fine dining restaurant on an idyllic island, the Willows Inn was once a global destination for those who wanted to sample unique cuisine made with local, often wild ingredients. However, a 2021 investigation and class action lawsuit accused chef-owner Blaine Wetzel of workplace abuses, sexual harrassment, and wage theft, and there were claims that some of the supposedly locally foraged raw materials came from such sources as Costco and Target. The lawsuit was settled this year for $1.37 million, and the restaurant has closed. The building’s owners have donated the inn to a social services agency.

Source: Courtesy of Brasserie V

Brasserie V
> Location: Madison, Wisconsin

This European-style pub with a Belgian menu and large selection of craft beers was a staple of downtown Madison. Regulars celebrated anniversaries there, and local farmers and brewers supplied the restaurant with many of its offerings. For staffing reasons stretching back before COVID, as well as limited service hours as a result of the pandemic, the owners made the tough decision to close this August.


Source: Courtesy of Rachelle B. via Yelp

> Location: St. Francis, Wisconsin

After nearly four decades as the only Polish restaurant in the Milwaukee area, Polonez closed this September as owners Aleksandra and George Burzynski retired. Known for its stuffed cabbage rolls, pierogi, and plethora of soups including a dill pickle variety, the eatery has sold to a couple who plan to open a play and arts center for children on the site.

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