How not to close a restaurant

The middle eastern place closed down in my town. I figured this out by showing up two nights in a row at prime dinner hour and finding the door locked, the room dark, with no sign of activity. I called while standing outside and the phone rang and rang. They’re still taking reservations on Open Table, and still selling discount coupons on Local Flavor, but a colleague checked out their other location and got positive confirmation they’re gone for good.

I’m sorry for the personal or financial issues that caused this to happen, but they could have done a better job of saying goodbye. Announce it, for one thing, instead of slinking away. Better yet, since they have another location 20 minutes away, do promotions to draw diners to that location.

Javier’s, a Nuevo Latino place that fell victim to a bad venue last winter, did a much better job of going out of business. They had a series of special nights where you could commiserate at the bar and drink up their inventory at bargain prices. (Apparently you’re not allowed to take alcohol off the premises when you close a place.) They even honored outstanding gift certificates. The result was a reservoir of good will that will follow Javier to his next restaurant.

I know that restaurateurs have a reputation as bad business people, but this isn’t about business. It’s about common sense, and common courtesy. It really shouldn’t be that hard to say goodbye in a positive way.

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