clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The 17 Most Tearjerking Restaurant Shutters of 2014

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Bid a fond farewell to these restaurants, gone too soon.

Every year, Eater takes a moment to remember the restaurants that gracefully bowed out of the game over the past calendar year — and as in years past, 2014 marked the unexpected closure of many decades-old favorites. This year, a few trends emerged. Acclaimed chefs (New York City's Wylie Dufresne) and third-generation restaurateurs (the Bozzi family of LA's Palm Restaurant) on both coasts lost their iconic spaces due to neighborhood development, but were able to give fans advance notice in the hospitality equivalent of a "farewell tour." Michelin-starred restaurateurs and big-name chefs, including Daniel Patterson and Chris Cosentino, closed years-old restaurants in favor of more casual concepts.

And some examples — like Chicago's Hot Doug's and Seattle's Paseo — revealed how an entire city could come together to recognize the culinary imprint left by a hot dog or sandwich. All will be missed.

Photos: Pastis, Facebook; 'inoteca, Krieger/Facebook; Incanto, Edsel Little/Flickr

'inoteca, New York City
2004-February 8, 2014
Restaurateur Jason Denton's once-bustling 'ino Group suffered two major losses in the past 20 months: Less than one year after his 15-year-old flagship panini shop 'ino called it quits in the West Village, Denton shuttered his beloved Italian wine bar 'inoteca in early winter of this year. The restaurant had been credited with ushering in the Lower East Side, providing a late-night spot where diners could snack on tramezzini — alongside just-got-off-shift chefs and visiting celebrities — until 3a.m. During its final week, guests lined up around the block for their final taste.

Pastis, New York City
1999-February 28, 2014 (temporary)
By late 2013, restaurateur Keith McNally confirmed he would have to temporarily close his legendary Meatpacking District spot, Pastis, so "that our landlord can proceed with his renovation and expansion of the building." But the restaurant's year-long hiatus has extended into the "indefinite" territory, with rumors swirling throughout the year that McNally will, in fact, not be able to re-open in the Pastis's former space. By October, McNally confirmed that the restaurant would indeed be moving to an as-yet-unconfirmed location in the Meatpacking District, which will hopefully recreate the iconic brasserie vibe of the original. Projected opening: late 2016.

Incanto, San Francisco
2002-March 24, 2014
Long before offal was showing up on every restaurant menu, chef Chris Cosentino was pioneering the off-cuts at his San Francisco restaurant Incanto. But after 12 years, Cosentino and partner Mark Pastore announced the restaurant would close to make way for the more-casual Porcellino. (In an interview with ISSF, Pastore said the new concept would better "service the neighborhood" than the restaurant, which remained one of the city's most difficult-to-get tables.) But Porcellino didn't stick, either: It closed earlier this month, after just six months in business.

Photos: Palena, Lopez/Eater DC; Fleur de Lys, Facebook

Palena, Washington, DC
2001-April 26, 2014
James Beard Award-winning chef Frank Ruta was forced to close his Washington, DC restaurant Palena (and its adjacent cafe and coffee shop) after 13 years, marking what Eater DC called "one of the saddest restaurant closings in recent years." The Palena cafe's roast chicken and namesake burger were among DC's iconic dishes, and the restaurant community expressed its grief in an outpouring of appreciation for Ruta and fond memories of their dining experiences. "The real testimony to Frank and Palena was simply how it brought a community together," said one Palena veteran. "DC is a lesser place for not having it any longer."

Fleur de Lys, San Francisco
1970-June 28, 2014 
After 28 years as chef/partner, Hubert Keller closed up his San Francisco fine-dining restaurant Fleur de Lys, credited as one of the "first chef-driven restaurants" in the country. The once-groundbreaking restaurant — exemplified by Keller's all-vegetarian tasting menu, considered among the first — had faded of late, with the restaurant stripped of its Michelin star in 2012. (Founder Maurice Rouas, who opened the restaurant in 1970, died in 2012.) In a farewell statement, Keller wrote that "we have decided it's time to turn a page in our lives" with the closure of the restaurant, which still exists in the form a casual Vegas spin-off, Fleur.

Photos: Revel, Shawn Perez/Flickr; Plum, Patricia Chang/Eater; Palm Restaurant, Eater LA

Revel Casino & Resort, Atlantic City, NJ
2012-September 2, 2014 
When the Revel Casino & Resort was conceptualized, it was supposed to be a landmark for the struggling beach community of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Chefs Marc Forgione, Alain Allegretti, and Jose Garces all quickly signed on, and hopes surged that the property would become a bona fide dining destination. (Garces went all-in on the casino, opening three concepts and adding two more by summer 2013.) But between the ongoing recession and Hurricane Sandy, which came ashore in late 2012, the ambition was ill-timed. Less than a year after its debut, the casino filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, officially calling it quits in September of this year. The $2.4 billion property never turned a profit, and Forgione, Garces, and other restaurateurs were unceremoniously sent packing.

Plum / Ume, San Francisco
September 2010-May 2014; May 2014-September 2014
Michelin-starred chef Daniel Patterson shook up his Bay Area empire in a major way this year. In May, Patterson announced Oakland's Plum restaurant would be revamped into the more casual Ume, under the guidance of onetime Outerlands chef Brett Cooper. (Next door, Plum's popular cocktail partner Plum Bar remained open, business as usual.) But less than four months later, Patterson abruptly shuttered the new concept, choosing to expand Plum Bar into the space. The restaurant is now open as Plum Bar + Restaurant.

Palm Restaurant, LA
1964-September 30, 2014
West Hollywood's iconic Palm Restaurant became a victim of neighborhood redevelopment earlier this year, ending the steakhouse's 40-year run as a power-lunch destination for the rich and famous. Although it's already moved into a new $4 million Beverly Hills location, many are still mourning the loss of its famous murals, featuring caricatures of everyone from Joe Namath to Leo DiCaprio to Barbara Eden. According to Bruce Bozzi Jr., whose great-grandfather co-founded the restaurant, the caricatures were removed and gifted to their subjects.

Hot Doug's final day. Photo: Paul Callan/Flickr

Hot Doug's, Chicago
2001-October 3, 2014
On May 6, Doug Sohn announced he would close his iconic hot dog spot Hot Doug's by October, and the reaction was swift and somber. (Chef Rick Bayless, speaking to Eater Chicago, summed up Sohn's influence thusly: "Doug made hot dogs modern, and in doing so he also made Chicago more modern. It's no coincidence that people started paying more attention to Chicago's food after he opened.") After endless interviews and think pieces, Hot Doug's final day drew more than 500 fans standing in line before it even opened. Sohn himself placed the final order at 6:35p.m. October 3, marking the end of an era.

Photos: Hamersley's Bistro, Bingham/Eater Boston; Dog & Duck Pub, McCarron/EATX; Red Medicine, Daniels/Eater LA

Hamersley's Bistro, Boston
1987-October 27, 2014
Hamersley's Bistro, a longtime member of Boston's Eater 38, closed up shop this fall after a nearly three-decade run of serving up duck confit and its iconic roasted chicken — the latter most famously enjoyed by Julia Child, a onetime mentor of chef/owner Gordon Hamersley. In a tribute published in Boston Magazine, noted food writer Corby Kummer compared the chef to Boston's equivalent of Alice Waters, calling Hamersley's "the best restaurant in Boston, both because and in spite of the fact that it never set out to be."

Red Medicine, Los Angeles
2010-October 31, 2014
Since his Beverly Hills restaurant opened in 2010, chef Jordan Kahn has received accolades for what Eater LA hailed as his "New Nordic [cuisine] through the lens of Asian ingredients." So when Kahn announced the restaurant's sale this fall — citing "new building ownership and the accompanying overhead cost increases" — many were surprised by the abrupt closure. Although Red Medicine will perhaps be best remembered for refusing to serve LA Times critic S. Irene Virbila back in 2010, many, including critic Jonathan Gold, praised the restaurant for its "punk rock" attitude and its rare late-night hours.

The Dog & Duck Pub, Austin
1990-October 31, 2014
Sometimes, the loss of a beloved neighborhood bar stings the most, and many Austinites felt that pain when University of Texas's "campus institution" Dog & Duck announced it'd be forced to relocate after 24 years downtown. In a bit of good news, D&D's owners will move the bar to East Austin, with plans to re-open as soon as January 2015. But as many regulars point out, the new space — without D&D's familiar pressed-tin ceiling and covered back patio — will simply not be the same.

Photo: Bistro à Champlain, Randall Brodeur/Eater Montreal; Paseo, Jessica Spengler/Flickr

Bistro à Champlain, Montreal
1987-November 2, 2014
Montreal's legendary restaurateur/wine enthusiast Champlain Charest announced his retirement in September of this year, and his beloved 27-year-old restaurant Bistro à Champlain officially closed in early November. (Au Pied de Cochon chef Martin Picard was among the spot's final guests.) Charest originally purchased the bistro space in 1974 but debuted Bistro in 1987 — where his wine collection, once numbering more than 38,000 bottles, fueled the cuisine. Upon Bistro's closure, Charest transferred 19,000 of the restaurant's bottles to the nearby Estérel Resort, which plans to open a "Champlain Charest wine cellar" in tribute. But in an unfortunate twist, a "warehouse snafu" by the Quebec alcohol commission resulted in the spoiling of 450 bottles of wine. Charest, in his retirement, remained zen, telling Eater Montreal: "The collection belongs to the SAQ now. It's up to them to store and sell the bottles as they see fit."

Paseo, Seattle
1993-November 11, 2014 (temporary)
Since November, Seattle sandwich fans have been chronicling the saga of the beloved Caribbean sandwich shop Paseo, which abruptly shuttered its two locations after 21 years. After reports that its owners filed for bankruptcy just one day later, fans launched a failed Kickstarter attempt to revive the restaurant, then were bailed out by a new owner, Ryan Santwire, who purchased the restaurant (without its recipes). Santwire says he's re-hiring some of Paseo's original chefs to help recreate the recipes when the restaurant is resurrected next year.

wd~50. Photo: Krieger/Eater NY

wd~50, New York City
April 2003-November 30, 2014
No 2014 closure rippled through the restaurant industry more deeply than the shutter of wd~50, chef Wylie Dufresne's temple to modernist cooking that opened back in 2003. In June, Dufresne confirmed that wd~50's Lower East Side space would be demolished to make way for a multi-million-dollar new development, causing a rush on tickets to the final series of dinners. In the restaurant's final weeks, fellow chefs Daniel Patterson, David Chang, Daniel Boulud, and others stopped in and paid their respects to Dufresne and his team. Dufresne plans to re-open wd~50 in an as-yet-to-be-found new space in New York City; in the meantime, expect a documentary, The Last Days of wd~50, to debut early next year.

Photos: Cat & Fiddle, Facebook; L20 and Takashi, Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The Cat & Fiddle, LA
1982-December 15, 2014
In the mid-eighties, a former musician turned a former movie studio warehouse — where parts of Casablanca were apparently originally filmed — into a landmark Sunset Boulevard restaurant and bar. But in fall 2014, the Cat & Fiddle's owners announced it would be forced to close after its landlord found another tenant willing to pay twice as much for its space and gorgeous outdoor patio. Before the bar's final day on December 15, Eater LA bestowed the Cat & Fiddle with a 2014 Eater Award for "Saddest Shutter of the Year."

L20, Chicago
2008-December 31, 2014
There's something weird going on with Chicago's Michelin-starred restaurants. Less than a year after the Michelin-starred Graham Elliot called its quits, the city's two-Michelin starred L20, originally founded by acclaimed chef Laurent Grasannounced it would close by the end of the year. (Gras left the restaurant in 2010, announcing his departure literally the day after Michelin granted L20 a three-star rating.) According to its current owners at the Lettuce Entertain You group, the seafood-focused tasting-menu restaurant shuttered this year for "financial" reasons, and will be replaced by a more accessible concept. The new restaurant, Intro, will feature a rotating line-up of guest chefs when it opens in February 2015.

... plus one bonus #18 shutter, coming just after the New Year:

Takashi, Chicago
2007-January 2015
Chef Takashi Yagihashi's eponymous restaurant became Chicago's second Michelin-starred restaurant to announce a closure in 2014. The onetime Top Chef Masters contestant told the Chicago Tribune the shutter was due to a "personal decision" and desire to focus on his other concepts. Although Takashi's final day was originally scheduled for this New Year's Eve, high demand for its final "greatest hits" omakase menu led the chef to extend his last service until January 3, 2015.


How NYC’s Don Angie Makes Its Viral Lasagna


Paris Hilton Is in Her Domestic Goddess Era

Eater Voices

Leave Prue Leith Alone