2009: Bad Year To Be In The Restaurant Biz, Or Was It?

Edwin Goei
​If you think the year that's passed was bad, try owning a restaurant. It was a tough 2009. The luxury brands predictably suffered. The likes of Savannah, White Horses, Manhattan Supper Club and even Tracht's folded as people got tighter and choosier with their budgets. And some others like Haru Izakaya, Contodo Mexican Grill, Bistro West, and Dickey's BBQ are notable in that they barely lasted a year.

Along with the grim news on these full-service joints, desserts suffered too. Once red hot, the frozen yogurt phenomenon finally cooled. What we witnessed was the froyo critical mass being reached. New entrants hoping to catch the Yogurtland and Pinkberry, er, fever (okay, my metaphors are getting ahead of myself here) got the cold shoulder from the public (that's the last one I promise).

But it wasn't all sad failures and fizzled concepts. From the rubble of the old came the promise of the new. Izakaya Zero's shuttering led to 25 Degrees; French 75 Bistro became Brasserie Pascal; and the much-lauded and venerated Thai Nakorn actually multiplied -- 2009 begat the resurgence of the Garden Grove location of what many consider the best Thai in California, making two within ten miles of each other. And who can forget (how could you when I yap about it all the time) that 2009 was the year Diamond Jamboree fully bloomed with all of its new restaraunts and, oh yeah, that thing called Kogi started roaming O.C. in their appropriately-named Naranja truck.

Here's a list of openings and closings that we've chronicled this past year on our blog, print pages and through word-of-mouth (Thanks to Jessica Ford for putting this together). 

2009 Restaurant Closures:

Amazing Kabob House (Orange)
Baja Fresh (Anaheim Hills)
Banh Cuon Hong Mai (Santa Ana)
Beard Papa's (Costa Mesa)
Beard Papa's (Santa Ana)
Bistro West (Tustin)
Black Angus (Lake Forest)
Black Angus (Tustin)
Blue Coral Seafood & Spirits (Newport Beach)
Blue Fish (Santa Ana)
Bobby McGee's (Brea)
Cafe Europe (Anaheim)
Cask 'n Cleaver (Orange)
Ce Fiore (Irvine)
Cherry Berry (Lake Forest)
Chimayo (Huntington Beach)
Chuao Chocolatier (Irvine)
Contodo Mexican Grill (Orange)
Crescent City (Tustin)
Dairy Queen (Orange)
Dee Dee (Anaheim)
Dickey's Barbecue Pit (Irvine)
French 75 Bistro (Newport Beach)
Habana (Santa Ana)
Halal Tandoori (Garden Grove)
Han Arum Roll House (Irvine)
Harbor Cafe & Tacos (Fountain Valley)
Haru Izakaya (Tustin)
Hof's Hut (Orange)
Islands (Laguna Hills)
Izakaya Zero (Huntington Beach)
John's Philly Grill (Anaheim)
LaRana (Lake Forest)
Maestro (Costa Mesa)
Manhattan Supper Club (San Clemente)
Mariposa Ultra Lounge (Long Beach)
Martini Blues (Huntington Beach)
Mesa Grill & BBQ (Santa Ana)
Mustard's Cafe (Orange)
Ono Ono (Rancho Santa Margarita)
Opah (Rancho Santa Margarita)
Pastagina (Irvine)
Pho Hoa (Westminster)
REI Hot Dog Stand (Santa Ana)
Savannah (Costa Mesa)
Sushi 5 (Tustin)
Taal (Fullerton)
Tea & Sympathy (Costa Mesa)
Thai Spice (Lake Forest)
The Hidden Kitchen (Costa Mesa)
Topz (Orange)
Tracht's (Long Beach)
Umi Grill (Santa Ana)
Valentina's Ristorante Italiano and Supper Club (Mission Viejo)
Vessia Ristorante (Irvine)
Wendy's (Foothill Ranch)
White Horses (San Clemente)
Wienerschnitzel (Mission Viejo)
Yamabuki (Anaheim)
Yogurberry (Santa Ana)
Yum Yum Donuts (Costa Mesa)
Zpizza (Foothill Ranch)

Next, 2009 restaurant openings.

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