Why Are So Many High-Profile Restaurants Closing?

When ambition and acclaim don't translate into success

Locked gate, restaurant beyond
A lot of high-profile restaurants are closing faster than one would expect.
Wolfgang Weber/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / February 22, 2020 7:05 am

Most of the time, when a high-profile restaurant closes its doors, it feels like the end of a local institution. There’s history there; chefs have made their name working in the kitchen, and regulars have stories to share about the best meals they’ve had within those walls. At Grub Street, Nikita Richardson takes stock of a very different trend in restaurant closings: spots that opened to fanfare and acclaim but didn’t have enough time in business to find their footing.

Richardson cites several high-profile restaurants calling it a day, including Dave Pasternack and Victor Rallo’s Barca and Surf, which will become an Italian restaurant and a sports bar, respectively. Also cited in the article? Peruvian restaurant Llamita, which is also calling it a day despite glowing reviews.

For Richardson, the most worrisome element here is what this says about ambition — and whether this could mean that the next generation of high-profile eateries will play it safe rather than strive for something grand.

Like families, all restaurants are unhappy (or unlucky) in their own way. But this recent spate of closures is jarring, if not alarming. It puts into question the value of pedigree, the value of positive press, and the limits of ambition when put up against a bottom line.

Running an acclaimed restaurant and running a successful restaurant aren’t necessarily the same thing, mind you. But the closings that Richardson notes — and what they might portend — is enough to send a chill down the spine of anyone with concerns over where the food industry might be heading.

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