Some newbie restaurants and some familiar names have closed in recent months.
The burning question in customers’ minds following such closures is always “Why?”
There are many behind-the-scenes reasons restaurants close. They range from trouble affording rising food, labor and rent costs to physical problems with the location. And sometimes, tired restaurant owners simply want out.
Real answers can be hard to come by because restaurant owners typically don’t like to air their failures.
But we reached out to each of four restaurants that have closed to ask what happened. Here’s what we know.
Griddle Me This
The trend of waffles being used as everything from a bun on a lamb burger to a holder for ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce is going strong.
But on May 1, it closed.
They’re very curious but they’re just afraid to try it.
Tina Qi, Griddle Me This
Despite good Yelp reviews, owner Tina Qi said Fresno wasn’t ready for this type of restaurant. Qi and her husband moved to Fresno from the Bay Area because there wasn’t a restaurant like theirs around.
“There’s not a whole lot of different type of restaurants there that are out of the ordinary, that are new,” she said.
In the Bay Area, new restaurants – no matter how weird the cuisine – are busy for the first year as eager customers want to try them, she said.
In Fresno, it’s the other way around, she said.
“They’re very curious but they’re just afraid to try it,” she said. “I think Fresno, the city as a whole, they’re not ready for big changes. It takes time for them to accept something.”
Other factors that may have contributed: Its location, which wasn’t visible from the street; the restaurant was not allowed to put large signs on Blackstone Avenue; and the couple just had a baby, Qi said.
Owner Ann Liao said she didn’t want to close the shop, which opened more than eight years ago. But there wasn’t enough business to keep it going. The three other Teazer shops were keeping it afloat, she said.
Teazer has locations in River Park, the Tower District and West Shaw Avenue and Liao wants to open more.
I can’t tell you why it closed, but it is closed.
Jeff Au, Tang Yuan
The downtown location struggled with rising expenses and a lack of customers in the evenings, even after moving its closing time from 11 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“We had to continually reinvest in that store to keep that store open,” she said. “We’re sentimental people, but business is business.”
This upscale Chinese seafood restaurant opened with a bang last June. The restaurant at Palm and Bullard avenues had nine tanks holding live seafood, a 155-inch TV and mahjong tables that automatically stacked and shuffled tiles used in the game.
The restaurant shut down for awhile, revamped some things and then reopened. And then it closed again.
It’s been closed for months now but readers haven’t stopped wondering why.
Tang Yuan has the same ownership and management as the 1920 Tea Club, which serves drinks and light eats in the same shopping center.
Manager Jeff Au said Tang Yuan closed because the restaurant has “some problems we have to fix.”
“I can’t tell you why it closed, but it is closed,” he said, leaving the door open to a possible reopening.
“I don’t know when we’re going to reopen it,” he said. “Maybe next year.”
He then mentioned plans to open another business in Fresno, possibly a cafe.
Tomo’s Japanese Restaurant at Champlain Drive and Perrin Avenue closed a while ago.
The owners could not be reached for comment.
Tomo’s is still planning to open a location inside Manchester Center’s “artisan food community,” said the mall’s general manager Moe Bagunu, who met with the owners recently.
They told him there were “extenuating circumstances” that led to the closure at the Champlain-and-Perrin location, he said.
Tomo’s will be one of at least seven local restaurants opening in a sort of fancy food court in the former Gottschalks space. Work is underway to revamp the space, but the opening is still many months away.