Despite so many exciting new additions to the food and drink scene, the Twin Cities still took a hit when it came to closings.
It was especially sad to see longtime mainstays make an exit. The oldest was O’Gara’s, which anchored the corner of Selby and Snelling avenues in St. Paul for 77 years, shuttered last year for what was supposed to be a temporary hiatus. This year, we learned it wouldn’t be coming back.
After 62 years, the honky-tonk Lee’s Liquor Lounge closed, while 56-year-old Sporty’s Pub & Grill ended its lease north of the U (it’s now Como Tap). Forepaugh’s, Russian Tea House and Uptown Pizza said goodbye after four decades in business. It’s Greek to Me and the original location of Snuffy’s Malt Shop weren’t far behind when they called it quits.
The 22-year-old Grand Avenue location of D’Amico & Sons hung it up. So did a slew of beloved restaurants around for 15-plus years: Neapolitan pie shop Pizza Nea, family-run Mediterrean spot Kafe 421, farm-to-table trailblazer Corner Table and Italian gem Al Vento. Spoonriver, Marla’s Caribbean Cuisine and Happy Gnome took a bow after 14 years as shining examples of the diversity of Minnesota cuisine.
We lost a 10-year-old diner (St. Paul’s Chicago Taste Authority) and an eight-year-old coffee shop (Maeve’s Cafe) and a 25-year-old downtown Minneapolis mainstay (Old Spaghetti Factory). The women behind Chef Shack Ranch consolidated their efforts to Bay City, Wis., leaving Minneapolis with one less way to get their famed Indian-spiced mini doughnuts. After solid runs, Seventh Street Social in St. Paul, Bistro La Roux in Circle Pines and Libertine in Uptown threw in the (dish) towel.
In a particularly sad trend, we had many restaurants fail to make it a year in business. These goodbyes came sooner than we expected: Hasty Tasty, Moderna Kouzina, Meyvn, Ziadi’s Mediterranean Cuisine, Revolution Hall, Elephant Bar, Funky Grits, the Dough Room, the downtown Minneapolis Rojo Mexican Grill, and Piggy Bank. Just/Us Restaurant and Lucky Oven Bakery held out just over a year (and the former is returning soon in a new space), and Sweet Chow made it to the 18-month mark before closing up shop. And though Funky Grits closed sooner than expected, its owners launched a new chicken counter, Thigh Times Birdhouse, at the North Loop Galley food hall.