Saturday, April 25, 2015

Disappearing restaurants

Why do some of our favourite restaurants just close up and disappear?
            An excellent Turkish-kind of place nearby, where the food ordered arrived with several other dishes that were not ordered or charged for, became one of our favourites – phut - gone. It was replaced by a fish and chip shop where we ordered and then had to wait three quarters of an hour for our meal to arrive.
            A small Chinese place, run by a charming couple who would bring a live crab to your table for you to touch before it arrived cooked (was it the same crab?) lasted a while – phut – gone.
            A pub in the district where the manager’s girl friend made stupendous pizzas and served them with a free bottle of wine on Tuesday evenings, seemed to be a winner as the place was very popular. But not so – phut – gone.
            A Portuguese place, run by a family, who threw in an unusual bottle of wine if you ordered two main courses on certain occasions, lasted a while – phut – gone.
A tube trip away was another Portuguese place where the food was not only excellent but very reasonable in price. Their above average “house” wine was so cheap (by restaurant standards) that people flocked there. This “wine-without-greed” policy was a brilliant move by the owner who, sadly, retired – phut – gone. An Indian took over the premises.
An oriental restaurant owner where the dishes were cooked in full view and the white wine as high a quality as the food, clearly had difficulty in keeping his always charming staff. Perhaps the owner was a bit too attentive – phut – gone.
Nearby to where we live was a place that could easily have been a hotbed of Middle Eastern radicalism. Their food was cooked over charcoal in the middle of the room. The staff would stop all restaurant activity at prayers time. Then we might find ourselves sitting in smoke, coughing and with streaming eyes. We were often the only customers. It was a fun place and an experience. The food there was delicious. – phut (cough) - gone.
Perhaps these places were just too good value and their income could not cover the cost of staff, and ever-increasing rents and rates. Perhaps there are just too many restaurants in our district to justify the existence of so many. Are people eating out less? Or where they not run professionally enough? One way or another, we really miss them.