Fancy French? Homey Delis? Red-Sauce Italian Joints? Say Goodbye to All of These and More

Certain kinds of restaurants that have long been an essential part of the American food scene are slowly but surely disappearing
Dan Myers

Classic long-running diners are closing left and right. 

We all know that nothing lasts forever. This is especially true when it comes to restaurants. It’s estimated that about 60 percent of all restaurants go out of business within three years of opening, and the majority of those close within their first year, for a wide variety of reasons. But it’s not just individual restaurants that close; entire styles of dining fade from popularity. These are eight types of restaurants that are in danger of being lost forever.

Fancy French? Homey Delis? Red-Sauce Italian Joints? Say Goodbye to All of These and More (Slideshow)

In the past decade or so, the world of fine dining has been shaken to its core. While once the term “nice restaurant” signified white tablecloths, tuxedoed waiters, and a strict dress code, today all of that has pretty much gone out the window. Fine dining will probably never go away completely, but in today’s chef- and ingredient-driven world, more and more people are willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for a meal eaten in jeans at a small counter, because it’s really all about the food. Everything else takes a backseat — especially the formalities.

But it’s not just the fine-dining world that’s seen its foundations crumble. With rapidly increasing rents in big cities and health-conscious diners looking for alternatives to the same old, same old, the tried-and-true formulas of yesterday — tiny sandwich counters catering to hordes of hungry workers prowling the streets on their lunch breaks, for example — are fast becoming things of the past. And while a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs or veal parmigiana washed down with a glass of middling Chianti from a straw-wrapped bottle used to be a very popular dinner option, how many young couples actually eat that way anymore?

The American dining scene is changing before our very eyes, and styles of dining that were once ubiquitous are beginning to go the way of the dodo. They may never fade away completely, but they’re becoming increasingly difficult to find in a world that’s being overtaken by chain restaurants and farm-to-table small plates spots. So read on to learn which types of restaurants you should be sure to pay some attention to, because they might not be around for much longer.


“Continental” cuisine, heavily influenced by European fine dining and dependent on imported ingredients, was once the de rigueur style of dining for those looking for a nice evening out or to entertain a client. But this expensive style of dining is on its way out; even the high temple of Continental cuisine, New York’s Four Seasons, is facing some serious troubles.

Jewish Delicatessens

The delicatessen is a truly American style of dining, hugely influenced by Eastern European fare and perfected by Jewish immigrants in the early twentieth century. But even the great torchbearers like Katz’s Deli are finding it difficult to keep up with the changing times: heavy fare like chopped liver, pastrami, and knishes doesn’t jibe with the health-conscious, and the increasing price of beef is hurting their bottom line. 

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