Young Joni during the construction process. Photo by Tj Turner.
(Read to the bottom for an edited list of openings and closings in 2016! My initial write-through focused on the end of this year and probably gave a skewed perspective on what’s been happening all year. Thanks! Jason)
Open at the end of 2016: Young Joni, Tullibee, Punch Bowl Social, Cafe Alma, McKinney Roe, Augustine’s Bar & Bakery, Tori Ramen, Fitzgerald’s, Mercury Dining Room, Crisp & Green. Restaurants at the Radisson RED, AC Hotel. Opening soon: Revival St. Paul, Red Rabbit, a couple dumpling spots, Pajarito, Bellecour in Wayzata, and Bottle Rocket.
Closing: Heartland. Saffron.
Look I’m not cheering for closings, but this is not a sustainable model for a community that isn’t seeing a huge growth in population. Or income. Or amount of people dining out. Especially when coffee shops are adding food (like Penny’s and their delicious crepes), and tap rooms have year-round food trucks. Sure, we’ve had some high profile closings this year, but many of those have already been rebooted into new concepts, or will be soon. Talk to your favorite restaurant owner—how was their November? Slow? How about October? A little slow? Maybe there are too many restaurants.
The market has a way of correcting these things, but I’m just getting out in front of the next spate of closings and anyone who wants to suggest that diners need to support their favorites or they’ll close. No, places will close because investors got carried away opening too many places and apartment building developers decided that every single new building needed a restaurant as a ground-floor amenity that helps rent their spaces upstairs. Is there anything inherently bad about this? I’m not sure. Just get ready.
EDIT thanks to great feedback via @DeRushaEats twitter because you guys rightly want a better list and better evidence. So here goes:
CLOSINGS in 2016 of places that didn’t open in 2016, and don’t have a replacement:
Heartland, Saffron, Foreign Legion (now an event space), Nye’s, Chatterbox Highland, Bun Mi, Pilgrimage Cafe, Galaxy Drive-in, Ichiban, Rojo North Loop, Blackstone Bistro, Il Foro, Rosa Mexicano, Rachel’s, Barbary Fig, Ecopolitan, Big 10, La Ceiba Bistro, Restaurant Luci. Include Harriet Brewing because those are seats that matter. That’s 20 closings.
OPENINGS in 2016 (that are genuine new spots, not just substitutions for places that closed in 2016):
Young Joni, Tullibee, Punch Bowl Social, Cafe Alma (new compared to the Dunn Bros), McKinney Roe, Augustine’s Bar & Bakery, Tori Ramen, restaurant at the Radisson RED, AC Hotel, Volstead’s Emporium, Herbie’s St. Paul, Hi-Lo Diner, ie Italian Eatery, PinkU, Pimento, Mucci’s, Handsome Hog, Rose Street Patisserie, Lu’s Sanwiches, Costa Blanca, Xavi, Erik the Red, Bonicelli Kitchen, Up-Down Arcade, Whole Sum Juice Bar, Dumpling, Penny’s Coffee. Opening soon: Red Rabbit, Mrs. Dumpling, Pajarito.
PLUS Breweries/Distilleries opening in 2016: Inbound Brew, Able Brewing, Wayzata Brew Works, Modist Brewing, Clockworks Brewing, Wild Mind Artisan Ales, Twin Spirits Distillery, Lawless Distillery.
My point is that while we’ve lost seats, we’ve gained far more seats. I’m counting 38 openings to 20 closings, and I’m sure I’m missing spots. Help me out on Twitter or in the comments.