Although Seattle saw a spate of restaurant openings in 2012, the size of the food scene's controlled by the inevitable closings of restaurants which run up against changing culinary moods; uncooperative landlords; aging owners or cash-strapped customers. Dozens of local restaurants didn't make it through the year. Here, a look at a few which are bound to be especially missed:
Costas Opa (November): Fremont's anchoring Greek restaurant, a landmark as recognizable as the Fremont Troll, closed after 32 years so owner Costas Antonopoulos could spend more time with family. The restaurant's slated to be replaced by a bank.
Bisato (October): Two decades after opening the lauded Lampreia in Belltown, chef Scott Carsberg announced he planned to shutter Bisato, the less-formal remake of his original restaurant. Although he didn't specify his reasons for closing, Carsberg's indicated he's on the hunt for other potential opportunities.
Chino's (September): Among my biggest 2012 regrets is not running a full review of Chino's, which I really enjoyed. I'm not sure my praising the Mexi-Taiwainese joint's chicken wings and pork buns would have done much for first-time restaurateurs Walter and Mari Lee, stuck from the start in the wrong Capitol Hill location, but I hated to see the bar close before reaching its one-year anniversary.
Karam's Lebanese Cuisine (June): Better known for its signature garlic sauce, Karam's this spring closed its 25-year old Capitol Hill outlet, continuing to sell its condiments online.
Le Gourmand (June): Tuckered out by 27 years of preparing very special meals, Bruce and Sara Naftaly decided to close the restaurant which defined farm-to-table philosophies back before anyone had coined the term "locavore." The Naftalys announced the closure months in advance, then briefly extended the restaurant's run, so loyal fans could say goodbye.
Elemental/ Elemental Next Door (June): Soon after I moved here, a friend asked for the name of a restaurant in San Francisco that was similar to Elemental. I put the question to former Weekly critic Jonathan Kauffman, who told me there was nothing like Elemental anywhere else. Laurie Riedeman and Phred Westfall closed the polarizing restaurant in order to pursue "new challenges."
The Local Vine (May): The wine bar didn't last two years in Capitol Hill, where it relocated after spending four years in Belltown. When it closed, the Capitol Hill Seattle blog remarked that earlier forecasts for the Pike/Pine corridor to emerge as a wine neighborhood seemed increasingly unlikely to materialize.
I Love New York Deli (May): Perhaps the best local source for knishes and Dr. Brown's black cherry soda, I Love New York gutted its University District location and closed its Pike Place Market stand without explanation (The restaurant's website remains active.)
Chez Shea (April): A perennial candidate for the city's most romantic restaurant, the nearly 30-year old Chez Shea closed a few years after being sold off by founding owner Sandy Shea.
Zesto's (January): The first restaurant on this list to open, and the first to go, the 64-year old Zesto's fried its last fish and chips around the first of the year. The restaurant, notorious for its health department write-ups, was replaced by the short-lived RoRo's.