While we tend to get our undies in a bunch (varyingly in both the good and the bad way) for openings and closings here at Grub Street, our alter egos at MenuPages face the ebb and flow of Chicago’s restaurant scene with admirable stoicism: a place opens? Poof, it’s on the site. A place closes? Zing, gone forever. With the excuse of the end of the year, we took a look at the stats from our sister site.
For all the talk of recession and economy, the numbers were actually quite heartening: From January 1, 2009 through December 31, a whopping 243 restaurants opened, ranging from high-profile game-changers like Ria, Xoco, and Cibo Matto, to neighborhood holes-in-the-wall and takeout joints.
As for closings, there were just 159, most of them places that faded quietly away — the few high-profile closings were, as Michael Gebert noted, places that were “on life support already,” like Aigre Doux and Powerhouse. As for those poor souls who not only opened in 2009, but also closed, let’s take a moment to pour one out in their honor: Lunch Rolls and Wally & Agador’s. Perhaps this was not the year for gimmick-driven sandwich spots?
The three neighborhoods with the highest rates of both openings and closings were Lincoln Park/Depaul, River North, and Wrigleyville/Lakeview:
The neighborhood with the overall greatest growth was Wicker Park/Bucktown, which had 11 more openings than closings. Rogers Park/Devon Ave, Hyde Park/Kenwood, and Streeterville carry the dubious honor of being the neighborhoods in which more restaurants closed than opened.
For those restaurants that closed, November was the most toxic month: 25 restaurants said goodbye, with December’s 18 closings coming in behind. But let’s think positive: Far and away the most popular month for opening was June, which saw 51 restaurants added to the listings. Coming in a distant second was a tie between April and November, with 27 restaurants each.