Still shellshocked by the late-2015 departures of two lodestars in the Twin Cities dining firmament — La Belle Vie and Vincent — diners tiptoed into January’s sad, sudden demise of four-star Brasserie Zentral.
The bad news kept coming. In April, 66-year-old Nye’s Polonaise Room went to that big piano lounge in the sky. That was quickly followed by the demise of 15-year-old Ecopolitan, the metro area’s only raw-foods restaurant. The brief tenure of Il Foro, the umpteenth (and terrific) remake of the thrilling art deco wonder that is the former Forum Cafeteria, came to an abrupt halt in May.
July marked the end of Turtle Bread Co. owner Harvey McLain’s two restaurants, 14-year-old Cafe Levain and seven-year-old Trattoria Tosca, as well as the demise of 36-year-old Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar.
In September, Brahim Hadj-Moussa brought 27 years of delicious North African cooking to a close when he shuttered his Barbary Fig.
In November, Beek’s Pizza ended its 60-year reign on Minnetonka Boulevard in St. Louis Park, and Mai Village called it quits after 27 years.
By early December, brothers Sameh Wadi and Saed Wadi had closed their brilliant Saffron Restaurant & Lounge after a decade-long run.
There’s no end in sight, either. Two stalwarts on Hennepin Avenue in south Minneapolis are throwing in the towel in the coming days. The Green Mill is leaving its home of 38 deep-dish-filled years on Jan. 1, and the first of the D’Amico & Sons chain — an instant favorite since its 1994 debut — is saying goodbye on Dec. 31.
New Year’s Eve is also the last day for two St. Paul giants: beyond-influential Heartland Restaurant & Wine Bar, and shoebox-like Ristorante Luci, where the hardworking Smith family has been charming diners since the late 1980s.
We’re going to lose another four-star gem: Piccolo will be serving its last plate of scrambled eggs with pickled pig’s feet on March 11, 2017.
And then there’s all the talk — unconfirmed by the retailer, of course — that Macy’s is closing its downtown Minneapolis store. Which means that two of the city’s most venerable restaurants, the Oak Grill and the Skyroom, both of which date to 1947, could be in jeopardy. Stay tuned.
What is it with Twin Citians and Italian food? This was the year that 10 — yes, 10 — Italian restaurants said arrivederci: the aforementioned Il Foro and Ristorante Luci, as well as Parella, Scena Tavern, Zio Cucina & Bar, Z’s Italiano, Scusi, Trattoria Tosca, St. Louis Park’s Vescio’s Cucina and Eden Prairie’s Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano. Still, Italian remains in demand, what with the openings of Mucci’s Italian, Italian Eatery, Red Rabbit and Piada Italian Street Food.
Goodbye, First Course, Bonnie’s Cafe, La Ceiba, Pilgrimage Cafe, Sovereign Kitchen & Bar, Foreign Legion, Chatterbox Pub (St. Paul), Christos (St. Paul), Don Pablos (Richfield), Pinkberry and five Stadium Village favorites — Big 10 Restaurant and Bar, Village Wok, Espresso Expose, Abdul’s Afandy and Bun Mi — which lost their Washington Avenue addresses to an apartment tower. Two chains were hard hit, too: Ruby Tuesday shut down eight Twin Cities outlets, and the lights went out at nine local Old Country Buffet locations.
Oh, and for those who spend time at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, here’s the bummer to cap a lousy year: Surdyk’s Flights is closing its Terminal 1 outlet on Jan. 4. There’s one bright spot: its Terminal 2 outpost will remain open.