Restaurants close down every day. In such a competitive landscape, there are literally hundreds of reasons why a restaurant could fail: an increase in rent, a decline in sales, a shift in tastes, a catastrophe, mismanagement, a lawsuit, owner retirement… the list goes on and on. The vast majority of restaurants stay open for only about a year or so, and when they close they’re not missed very much. Even if a restaurant stays open for 10 years, for there to be genuine sadness when it closes requires a fan base that not many restaurants ever acquire. But every so often, a restaurant comes along that captures the hearts and minds of millions, and when it closes it leaves a gaping hole and lots of sadness in its wake. We’ve found 10 restaurants that fit that bill, and we miss them!
Some restaurants become legendary just because they’ve been in business for as long as anyone can remember. They become such a part of the soul of the city they’re in that it’s hard to imagine the town without them. Other restaurants become legendary because they attracted a clientele that was atop a totem pole: financial, celebrity, musical, or otherwise. These storied hangouts are the perfect encapsulation of an era, the place to see and be seen, and if you’re a part of the club there you’ve officially made it. When they close, it’s a signal that the era is over. And still other restaurants become legendary because they’re just a damn fun place to have a meal.
The one constant among all the restaurants on this list? The world would be a better place if all these establishments were still open. In their heyday, they were the height of their respective city’s eating, drinking, and/or hangout scene, and the mere thought of the restaurant closing was hard to comprehend. Some of these restaurants were struck down in their prime; others lingered on for years after they were considered passé. But one thing’s for certain: if given the chance to dine at any of them again we’d jump on it.
To assemble our ranking, we looked at not only the renown that these restaurants enjoyed during their heyday, but also the level of nostalgia felt towards them today: both fond remembrances from those who had the opportunity to dine there, as well as regret from those who missed their opportunity to. Some were fine dining establishments, some were watering holes, but all are sorely missed.