The year 2010 may go down in history as having the shortest-lived "closing" in local restaurant history: Tom Johnson's Sushi House "closed" on a Saturday night in October (well, that's what the staff told the customers for much of that week) and "re-opened," without fanfare, the following Tuesday. Fans of the restaurant were thrilled with the news, so I suppose that's all that mattered in the end.
There were fans of other restaurants that didn't get such positive news, including those who loved iconic dining spots like the 78-year-old Bamboo Hut in Independence and the 52-year-old Main Street Inn in Grandview.
All of the metro locations of the franchise operations of T.G.I. Friday's, O'Charley's and Ted's Montana Grill closed,with parent companies citing underperformance as the cause. A few Outback Steakhouse operations were shuttered as well -- same reason. One of the several Jason's Deli locations in the suburbs, another chain operation, was shuttered in Overland Park. Why? Guess.
There were closings that weren't exactly surprises. The attractively designed new Peachtree Restaurant in the Power & Light District, for example, started on uneven footing with disastrous service. But that didn't turn out to be be as big a problem for the upscale soul-food venue, which the entertainment district's patrons never really found, let alone took to.
Other P&L District casualties in 2010: Rob Dalzell's ill-fated Chefburger (due to be replaced in 2011 by a Whooper Bar) and Bice -- another national chain that opened in Kansas City with a bang stifled by mediocre food and service. A new chain tenant has already been announced for that spot, too.
If any local restaurateur really took it on the chin in 2010 (well, besides the Hereford House owner Rod Anderson, who was indicted for arson and mail fraud conspiracy charges),
it was talented chef-restaurateur Rob Dalzell. Dalzell created an
ambitious local restaurant empire -- 1924 Main, Souperman, Chefburger
and Pizzabella -- just when the economy tanked and at roughly the same
time his wife and his father lost high-paying jobs in the wake of the
Karen Pletz vs. Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences
scandal. Rob and Margarita Dalzell sold Pizzabella to the head chef and
Chefburger to its investors, who later closed the restaurant anyway. The
Dalzells sold their home, moved to California and Rob is now the
executive chef at the Avalon Grill on Catalina Island.
Ann Liberda's Thai Place restaurant at 11838 Quivira closed this year and was re-opened, by new owners, as the Thai Homeplace restaurant (with the same kitchen and dining room staff). Mi Officina -- briefly located in that cursed location at 2801 Southwest Boulevard -- closed in September, and Taqueria Bautista closed the same month, the victim of mothballs.
Granny's Chicken Ranch ran out of cluck over the summer. The midtown location of Mezzaluna lasted a very short time in Waldo (only to be replaced by the equally mediocre family-owned diner Carly Sue's). Two Asian-fusion venues in Johnson County, Blue Fin and Tannah's, came and went fairly quickly. The Gyro House on Linwood Boulevard closed, and the Jerusalem Cafe on 39th Street is being turned into a burger shack. Another 39th Street restaurant, the Caliente Grill, couldn't make it. Mama's 39th Street Diner -- right across the street -- had a fire but is reportedly re-opening in 2011.
The Sweet Guy, a gelato-and-confection shop, closed in Waldo. Both JP Wine Bar locations -- downtown and Leawood -- fizzled out. Fuddrucker's moved out of Overland Park after more than two decades on Metcalf. Farther south on the same street, the Piccadilly Cafeteria shuttered for good after 17 years. The Pie Room in Parkville bid adieu (so did the Iron Horse Bistro in downtown Parkville) -- and it was sad to see the closing of Lutfi's Fried Fish Buffet at the Landing at 63rd and Troost.
More new restaurants opened in 2010 than closed, which is the silver lining in this scenario. But honestly, we'll miss a lot of these closed restaurants in Fat City.