Openings and Closings

The Nine Most Surprising Restaurant Closings of 2016

This year, restaurant openings were at an all-time high, with dozens of new eateries — both large and small — debuting across Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

But some of the closings got our attention for this piece. South Florida lost some old favorites, as well as a few newcomers that won our hearts as quickly as they faded into that sad place where restaurants go to die.

Fortunately, some you might miss the most have already announced plans to reopen or rebrand, while others — and the food comas they so lovingly induced — will be forever lost.

Here is a look back at the nine most surprising restaurant closings over the last 12 months:
9. Wipeout: Longboards Closes to Make Way for Kapow!
When Longboards first debuted in July 2011, it rocked the 500 block of Clematis Street with a grand opening block party. Hundreds turned out for free food, drinks, and entertainment in support of local charities Grind for Life and Surfers for Autism. It seemed like a promising endeavor for this beach-easy, Polynesian-themed eatery from Subculture Restaurant group founder Rodney Mayo. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the restaurant closed its doors this August, just a few weeks after whispers that they would launch a revamped menu. The good news? It was a strategic move to make way for a second Kapow! location, Subculture's wildly popular Asian-themed eatery that opened the same year as Longboards in Boca Raton's Mizner Park. Currently under construction, it's slated to open in mid-2017.

8. The Caribbean Cowboy Hits His Final Trail
After a decade-long run (and then some) as one of South Florida's most praised practitioners of New American cuisine, Johnny V's chef-owner Johnny Vinczencz was nicknamed everything from "The Caribbean Cowboy" to "The Guava Gaucho." The food at this beloved Las Olas eatery was always recognizable by familiar flavors rooted in our nation's regional cuisines, dressed up with a touch of worldly wise additions and daring dashes of gastronomic ingenuity. In July, all that came to an end when Vinczencz abruptly closed the doors to his Fort Lauderdale restaurant of 15 years, citing rising rent as the main factor. The closure came just two months after another longstanding Las Olas establishment shuttered its doors permanently, with Cafe de Paris owner Louis Flematti retiring after 50 years of business in May.
7. The Filling Station Ran Low on Fuel
In September 2015, the Filling Station — a former Miami-based burger-centric restaurant — relocated to Oakland Park. In our weekly restaurant feature, chef-owner Adam Feigeles said, "Basically, this is like my 12th restaurant. But I've sold them all. I've never had to close them." In February, the restaurateur closed his 12th restaurant (most likely without selling it). Well, guess this is where we say: Never say never.
6. Even Guy Fieri's Seal of Approval Couldn't Save the Sangria and Tacos at Havana Hideout
During the eight years it was in business, this downtown Lake Worth eatery went from a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives favorite to what seemed like nothing more than a glorified snack shack with a serious LDub locals-only vibe. Havana Hideout in Lake Worth — beloved for its amazing sangria and generous Taco Tuesday special — closed up shop a few months ago when its new owners, who took over for concept-founder Chrissy Benoit in 2012, weren't able to keep the Guy Fieri-fueled fever going.
5. Max's Social House Wasn't Such a Hotspot to Socialize After All
When Max's Social House announced plans to open in the former Ceviche space (and before that, Falcon House) in Delray Beach, the highly anticipated eatery was dubbed the "next wave of California cuisine" by restaurateur/creator Dennis Max. Maybe it was the less-trafficked location just north of Atlantic Avenue on a one-way Federal Avenue, but SoHo never became the hit spot to socialize for Delray Beach residents or visitors. To drum up business, the establishment launched Bar Brawls, a local bartender competition, on the heels of sister establishment Max's Harvest's popular Chef vs. Chef local chef showdown. The last-ditch effort drew huge crowds in its four months, but the momentum slowed in the summer months, ending with a final farewell in June.
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna