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Signs Your Favorite Restaurant is About to Close   25 comments

Posted at 4:18 pm in

In general, there will be no explicit advance warning that your favorite place is about to close. There are however, some warning signs you can watch for:

1)The Hours Change

This is a big one. If the place was formerly open on Sunday, but now isn't, if they used to do lunch and supper but now do only lunch, if they used to be open until 10pm, but now close at 8, these are all bad signs.

2)They are Out of Something Mundane

If you go and they are out of something completely mundane and off the wall, like napkins, or salt, that is a very bad sign.

3)The Staffing Level Drops

If your favorite waitress is gone, and she has not been replaced, that is a bad sign. If there was a hostess and now there is not, that is a bad sign.

4)The Owner is Waiting Tables

If the owner just used to circulate occasionally checking to see that everything was OK, but then starts meeting you at the door, seating you and taking your order, that is a very bad sign.

5)They Drop the Sanitation Service for the Restrooms

If the restroom used to be Sanitized by Swisher, but now has a grocery store bottle of liquid soap, that is a bad sign. It's not that it isn't clean, it still is, but you know they can no longer pay to have it cleaned.

6)The Menu Changes

If the items that take more work to prepare, or which fewer people order vanish from the menu, that is another bad sign.

If your favorite place starts to exhibit one or more of these signs, well, enjoy it while you can.

Written by ted on June 13th, 2008

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25 Responses to 'Signs Your Favorite Restaurant is About to Close'

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  1. Check the ketchup bottle lids too.

    jeff g.

    4 Dec 08 at 7:57 pm

  2. Coffee shops that post signs "Now Serving Lunch"


    12 Jan 09 at 7:08 am

  3. Any Restaurant that has been open longer than 6 months that puts out a "Now Open" sign. To add insult to injury, they get a beer or soda company to make sign.


    12 Jan 09 at 7:09 am

  4. The Doors are locked and all the lights are on and no one is there at noon for the lunch croud


    16 Jul 09 at 11:21 am

  5. If you eat fried foods at your favorite restaurant and their flavor starts to change noticeably, it may be a sign that the oil in the fryer is being changed less often. This is a bad sign, and usually indicative of a vicious circle (food quality deteriorates, meaning fewer repeat diners, meaning less revenue, meaning more skimping on expenses, meaning fewer oil changes, meaning food quality deteriorates...)


    14 Apr 10 at 8:58 am

  6. I missed the signs when our favorite Chinese restaurant closed. Number 3 should have tipped me off: The owner started skimping on plastic bags for take out. Before they would give us plastic bags to prevent leaks on the car seat. But the ladies that worked the register began saying the owner was berating them for giving out plastic bags (but they gave them to me anyway). Within a year they were gone.


    24 Jun 10 at 1:17 pm

  7. Excellent list, Ted. I do frequent restaurant reviews on my own blog, and I've spotted many of these.

    One other that I would add would be significant changes to dishes still on the menu. This can either mean A) cutbacks or inability to afford the same ingredients or B) loss of a chef. Both of these can be deadly for a restaurant.


    1 Mar 11 at 8:03 am

  8. My dad's biggie on this one is this: the crowd thins out


    2 Mar 11 at 12:32 am

  9. Numbers 2 and 3 are regulars at Wal Mart, but they're still making millions. LOL

    Miz T

    26 Jul 11 at 2:18 pm

  10. I recently went to a San Jose restaurant I go to frequently and suddenly they are closed on Mondays. Can't be a good sign...


    12 Sep 11 at 6:39 pm

  11. That's sign #1, actually..


    13 Sep 11 at 2:02 am

  12. I know, which why its sad. The irony is they have a big sign out front that open for lunch 7 days a week and $1.99 margaritas Monday-Wednesday. I guess this particular San Jose location isn't doing so hot unless they're all like that now.


    14 Sep 11 at 8:24 am

  13. A sign at the door and brown papered windows. This is the case with Tropical Smoothies in Harbison.


    14 Sep 11 at 8:44 pm

  14. El-Toro Mexican Restaurant is closed on St. Andrews Rd. Closed a few days before Thanksgiving. Formerly: Fast Tracks, Baja, D's Wing's and BB's.


    7 Dec 12 at 4:07 am

  15. Here's a sign; Restaurants that post multiple flimsy real estate signs along the road in fron of their business. Approximately 30 of them saying; we're open, Happy Hour, Dinner Specials. Entertainment, etc. It's like they are yelling for help Mint Julep.


    12 Apr 13 at 6:09 pm

  16. What about, it's address is 806 Saint Andrews Blvd?


    22 Apr 13 at 1:01 am

  17. Check Alphabetical closings and search for 806 -- it's in there 3 or 4 times.


    22 Apr 13 at 2:30 am

  18. Either 1) you order some 'standard' items menu items and the wait staff has to apologize 'sorry we're out' and the place is -not- crowded 2) (even worse) the wait staff has to come back -after- leaving to place the order, apologizing that they've -just- run out.... 3) The wait staff comes out w/ an incorrect dish and apologizes that the cook is {excuse here} (new, a temp, a relative helping out. 4) (major danger sign) the staff feels compelled to explain the shortage by explaining the owners woes/troubles/personal problems (e.g. 'family crisis', 'guy who regularly orders is out of the country') .. you may laugh, but these all happened during the course of one night at the Lexington Luce Cucina Italian Restaurant. ..


    25 Sep 14 at 5:02 pm

  19. Similar to point #2, I noticed a drop in "napkin quality" before a steak house I liked went under. They went from nice cloth napkins to paper ones. Within weeks they were gone. There seems to 3 "grades" of napkins - cloth, fancy paper ones, and napkin dispenser.


    30 Dec 15 at 5:05 pm

  20. I'm not picky; a roll of paper towels on the table is fine by me!!


    31 Dec 15 at 2:27 am

  21. The Free Times has some thoughts.


    27 Feb 20 at 12:55 am

  22. You were right. One of my favorite burger joints changed their hours and I knew they were going to close permanently. They closed right before the pandemic happened.


    26 May 20 at 9:20 am

  23. Oh yeah, within a couple months of them doing Point #1, they were gone.


    26 May 20 at 9:21 am

  24. Which burger place are you referring to?


    26 May 20 at 12:06 pm

  25. "Closed for remodeling" on the marquee is the kiss of death. It's more than 90% certain they ain't coming back.

    Harold Ward

    1 Nov 20 at 11:23 pm

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