Operations

Notable openings (and closings) in this year of 'fluctuating fortunes'

Independent operators are creatives, by nature, and kept new and exciting concepts coming, despite economic headwinds.
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Le Select in Chicago opened with famed chef Daniel Rose, but then a few months later parted ways with the chef. |Photo by Anthony Thalier

For independent restaurants, 2023 was the year of “fluctuating fortunes,” according to a recent state of the industry report from the James Beard Foundation.

But then again, isn’t that true every year for independent operators?

A survey by the Beard Foundation showed that about one-third (36%) of independents said traffic was up year over year. Check averages were higher (and, of course, so were menu prices). But operators continued to battle inflation and higher labor costs.

Early in the year came the announcement that Noma planned to close at the end of 2024, prompting much public keening about the death of fine dining.

But it seems fine dining has, once again, escaped that near-death experience as new restaurants kept coming—including plenty in fine dining. Sadly, however, the restaurant community also lost some beloved concepts in 2023.

Here’s a look back at notable openings and closings:

Le Select

Chicago

This new concept came with a side dish of drama. Daniel Rose (Le Coucou) partnered with the Boka Restaurant Group to open this long-awaited concept in January. A few months later, however, Rose was out at Le Select, as well as Boka’s Café Basque, which the chef had helped open in Los Angeles in late 2021.


Kindling Chicago

Kindling in Chicago. | Photo courtesy of Kindling.

Kindling

Chicago

Jonathon Sawyer partnered with the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group to open this two-floor venue in the Windy City’s iconic Willis Tower, which went through a $500 million renovation. Much of the menu comes from the wood-fired hearth or the rotisserie.


Ilis

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mads Refslund, the co-founder of Noma, brings the New Nordic style to a former rubber factory in Brooklyn where guests can spend up to $395 for a three-hour omakase experience (though there are less costly and shorter options).


Bar Continental

Chef Sean Brock lent his own vinyl collection to the listening bar concept that is Bar Continental. | Photo by Ray di Pietro

Bar Continental

Nashville, Tenn.

This “listening bar” by chef Sean Brock opened in September with a vintage vinyl collection (much of it his own) and an excellent sound system.


Atoma credit by Kyler Martin

Atoma is operated by alums of the famed restaurant Canlis, also in Seattle. | Photo courtesy of Kyler Martin

Atoma

Seattle

Canlis alums Sarah and Johnny Courtney opened this new concept in November after reportedly generating buzz at various pop-ups for months. Look for a Beef Culotte with sweetbreads and roasted parsnips; or Lions Maine Schnitzel with celery root remoulade and a fennel-caper sauce. Kale with mustards and pickled apples are topped with “Mimolette cheese-its.”


Metropolis

Marcus Samuelsson's latest is in the lobby of the Perelman Performing Arts Center. | Photo by Adrian Gaut

Metropolis

New York City

Marcus Samuelsson created this lobby restaurant for the Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center. On the team here is chef Ed Tinoco and Chef de Cuisine Marcelo Malta Andrade, along with Pastry Chef Ayana Brown.


Cassadona

This waterfront venue is a partnership with Groot Hospitality and Tao Hospitality Group. | Photo courtesy of Casadonna.

Casadonna

Miami

This is a partnership between Groot Hospitality (Komodo, Papi Steak, Swan) and Tao Group Hospitality (Tao, Hakkasan, Lavo). It was also Tao Group’s first foray into South Florida. The 20,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor venue opened in October.


Joyce Restaurant in Los Angeles

The new Joyce brings high-end Southern fare to Los Angeles. | Photo courtesy of Joyce

Joyce

Los Angeles

Southern cuisine stars at this concept, opened in August, by the team of Prince Riley, Athena Riley, Kassady Wiggins and Sammy Monsour. Look for dishes like Black Tiger Prawn and Oyster Perloo; and Nashville-hot catfish.


Sailor interior

Sailor in New York City opened in September. | Photo courtesy of Nicole Franzen

Sailor

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Chef and restaurateur April Bloomfield knows highs and lows. Once the chef of the famed Spotted Pig, who was caught in the wake of the sexual harassment scandal involving partner Ken Friedman, Bloomfield is now back in New York, recruited by Sailor owner Gabriel Stulman.


Four Twenty Five

New York City

Jean-Georges Vongerichten debuted this new Park Avenue concept in December, with chef Jonathan Benno (Lincoln Ristorante) helming the kitchen.


Closed:

Planet Hollywood Las Vegas, after 29 years in the Forum Shops, closed in May.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s namesake first West Coast venture, which was in the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills, closed in May after six years.

Animal, the Los Angeles restaurant by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, closed in June after a 15-year run.

David Chang’s Momofuku Ssam Bar closed in November after 15 years. Chang, who has been called one of the most influential chefs in two decades, didn’t give a reason, but reportedly told his staff it was time to bring it to an end on a high note.

The Signature Room atop what used to be known as the John Hancock Building in Chicago. Operators cited economic hardship.

Drew Nieporent’s Bâtard closed in New York City after nearly a decade.

Union Square Hospitality Group closed both Marta and Maialino (vicino) at the Redbury Hotel, after the hotel decided to house asylum seekers.

This story is part of Restaurant Business' look back at 2023. Click here to read our other year-end coverage.

 

 

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