In Memoriam: Top 12 Saddest Restaurant Closings of 2013
A few weeks ago, we brought you a slideshow of the best restaurants that opened in the past year. But in the midst of celebrating all the great new places to chow down in the Bayou City, we are reminded of those we lost in 2013.
As you get a start on the new year, why not sit down with a drink and pour a little out for our buddies who are no longer slinging burgers or tacos or sushi.
Check out our full list of 2013 Openings & Closings to see every notable (and less notable) restaurant that shuttered in the past 12 months. Who were you most sorry to see go?
These are the restaurants we'll miss the most (in alphabetical order).
We already miss you, Burger Guys...
Photo from VoicePlaces
12. The Burger Guys Even after the downtown location shuttered earlier in the year, we were still shocked by the sudden closure of The Burger Guys's flagship Westchase restaurant with no fanfare. By the time anyone figured out they were closing, owner Jake Mazzu had already served his last burger at the shop. He blames the high overhead and lack of support for small business owners in Houston for the demise of The Burger Guys. No word on what Mazzu will be up to next, but he'll likely continue to sell burgers out of a mobile trailer in Beaumont for the time being.
11. The Chili Shak Much like The Burger Guys, The Chili Shak closed without any sort of announcement. One day, the space was dark and the phone number was no longer working. The chili-centric restaurant opened in 2011, when Bernard Montgomery finally gave in to years of demands from his family to open a restaurant that would showcase his chili recipe. After getting great reviews from Houstonians (ourselves included), it seemed The Chili Shak would become a Houston institution, but that was not to be. After it closed in September, Montgomery took to Facebook and explained that the group was looking for a new space and seeking more customer support.
10. Farrago World Cuisine and 9. Sweet Lola These two eateries are listed together because they were next door to each other, and both were forced to close due to rent hikes in Midtown. Farrago, known for its great brunch, closed in late July after 13 years. On Facebook, the owners wrote, "We endured the construction, paid parking and towed customers. Alas, the over double rent was more than we could bare [sic]." Only a few months later, frozen yogurt shop Sweet Lola closed too, also because the rent became too high. Gentrification is all well and good when it benefits the community, but 2013 saw a few too many restaurants pushed out to make way for the new and (supposedly) better.
The nose-to-tail British restaurant closed this year, making many foodies feel offal...awful.
Photo from VoicePlaces
8. Feast When polling Houstonians about the restaurants they miss the most, Feast frequently comes up. The final feast took place on June 14 with a sold-out crowd eager to get one final taste of some offal from the skilled hands of chefs James Silk and Richard Knight. Feast helped raise awareness of nose-to-tail dining in Houston, but a failed concept in New Orleans spelled the beginning of the end for the restaurant. In our coverage of the end of Feast, Phaedra Cook wrote, "The same foodies and writers who waved the banner of Feast so ardently when it first started were now down the road chasing the new hotness, as we do. During the last night of service, Chef Silk said 'If every night had been like tonight, we wouldn't be closing.'"
7. Flora & Muse In one of the most surprising -- yet epic -- ways for a restaurant to close, Flora & Muse informed its customers it would no longer be open for business ... and did so during a Greek Wine Dinner. Talk about going out with a bang! In late October, the general manager, Evan Turner, informed guests that the restaurant would be closing for good that night after service. Rather than wasting away with no customers, Flora & Muse went out on its own terms. Props to them for doing so in style.
Even some of the best moules frites in town couldn't keep Jeannine's open.
Photo from VoicePlaces
6. Jeannine's Bistro The beloved Belgian bistro from half of the duo that brought us Cafe Montrose made a temporary closure permanent in May. On its Facebook page, the Belgian bistro wrote, "We've sadly decided to close, and wanted to thank all our friends & patrons for their support during the past 4 years. You were the reasons we were here & want you to know that you were appreciated. We will miss you all, as well as our staff tremendously!" Jeannine's was renowned for its moules in every variety from marinieres to congolaise, as well as it's perfect frites.
5. Katsuya It was a favorite among athletes and socialites hoping to see and be seen in the chic space in West Ave, so it wasn't a lack of business that caused the sushi restaurant to close. Instead, it was conflict among the managing partners, particularly master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi, who no longer wanted to be involved in the restaurant. It closed over the Fourth of July weekend. Late this year, Donald Chang's new Korean restaurant Nara opened in its place, and though Nara, too, is an Asian restaurant, it's a little more subdued and less ... um ... gaudy than Katsuya. Nara's already been getting great reviews, so hopefully it will last longer than its predecessor.
4. Perry's Italian Grille Fans of the Perry's Steakhouse empire were sad to see Perry's Italian Grille close in late June. Residents of Clear Lake, where the restaurant was located, took to Yelp to lament the closure of the neighborhood favorite, reminiscing about date nights and pre-dance dinners that took place at the Italian eatery. Perry's Steakhouse is still open across the country, as is Perry & Sons Market and Grille. Why they spell grill with an "e" in every restaurant name remains a mystery.
Let's remember Roots for great food, rather than poor judgment.
Photo from VoicePlaces
3. Roots Bistro A mere two months after Roots caused a stir with an ill-advised sign outside that read "Beer should be like violence: Domestic," the popular vegetarian restaurant bid Houston adieu in June. According to reports from CultureMap, a "disengaged investor" was behind the closure, not, as many people assumed, a drop in business after the tasteless domestic violence joke. Eric Sandler, at the time reporting for Eater, did point out a positive aspect to Roots's closure: "no more having to overenunciate the words 'Roost' and 'Roots' when talking about the two different, but very similarly named, restaurants." Indeed.
2. Taco Milagro The Upper Kirby modern Mexican restaurant closed at the end of May when its 15-year lease was up due to increases in rent in the popular neighborhood. At the time, Candice Schiller of the Schiller Del Grande Restaurant Group, which owned and operated Taco Milagro, told the Chronicle's Greg Morago: "(Kirby) has become a street of upscale restaurants; most of them well financed multi-unit groups. Our littler counter service taco shop can't pay those kinds of rents." The space once occupied by Taco Milagro at the corner of Kirby and Westheimer remains empty.
1. Thelma's Bar B Que Thelma's Bar B Que won accolades year after year for its smoky brisket, sausage and pork chops, but after a fire in 2009 felled the downtown location, a new shop that sprung up in the Third Ward just wasn't as good. In a Chronicle article from 2010, Alison Cook called Thelma "cantankerous" and lamented that the restaurant wouldn't allow any changes or substitutions without a surcharge. Thelma's was quickly replaced with Abdel's BBQ, which describes itself as "a small black owned bbq bussiness thats hopefully gonna blow up...God willing" [sic]. We're still waiting for that to happen.
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