Thursday, August 11, 2022

Why Are So Many Iconic Restaurants Closing?

2019 was not an easy year for old school restaurants, especially iconic ones. LA’s top-rated Cafe Pinot announced it will be shuttering its doors after a whopping 25-year run in the highly competitive industry. In New York City, the legendary cop hangout known as Two Toms had its final drink after 71 years in the business.

The sheer number of iconic restaurants that have closed down is enough to make most foodies raise an eyebrow. It would be different if they were simple chains, but they’re not. They’re major landmarks. So, why is this happening across the country? It all has something to do with these major issues…

  1. Tastes changed, but menus didn’t. 20 years ago, serving mac and cheese at a bar was great. These days, many people would expect a little Sriracha sauce or something other than a regular bowl of Kraft. Restaurants, especially when it comes to menus, need to evolve to survive. If they don’t evolve, eventually their client base will die out.

    Many people believe that this may have been the reason why Austin’s The Frisco ended up closing its doors after decades of great success. The same can be said about Two Toms Restaurant in Gowanus.
  2. The price of real estate and property taxes pushed them too far. Real estate prices have been steadily rising in most parts of the country. In major cities, real estate prices have been outgrowing most restaurant budgets.

    Unfortunately, if the price of real estate is too high, even iconic stores will have to close their doors. This is one of the many reasons that New York’s Carnegie Deli decided to close, as well as the primary reason why Austin’s Alcomar closed.
  3. They relied too much on their reputation or history, but let their food or service slide. This is a common issue that has caused many major restaurants to close their doors. Reputation alone can only do so much. If too many people have a bad time at your venue, eventually it will catch up to your company.

    Rumor has it that the Russian Teahouse was a victim of this issue, up until management was able to refinance and turn around their company.
  4. The famous restaurant no longer meshes with the current culture. Though rare, there have been cases where restaurants’ themes and histories were just too stigmatized to have people eat at their restaurant comfortably.

    Places like Sambo’s and the Coon Chicken Inn, for example, shut down as a result of their racist roots. Similar venues in the South are now starting to see fallout as a result of their marketing.
  5. The restaurant suffered a major loss and couldn’t rebuild. Another reason why great restaurants sometimes shutter permanently has nothing to do with human issues, but everything to do with bad luck.

    Several major restaurants ended up closing as a result of a fire burning down the venue. Though they could have rebuilt, it just wouldn’t be the same. So, the decided to cut things short.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart is a food critic, writer, and at home culinary enthusiast!


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