It's been a rather unpredictable year for Austin restaurants — for every opening it seems we've encountered a surprising shutter. Fine-dining concepts and East Austin have been hit hardest, but no concept has proved untouchable.
We're taking a look back at the 13 biggest restaurant closures of 2016 so far.
laV Restaurant & Wine Bar
laV opened to praise in March 2014 and quickly attracted a slew of accolades. However, on New Year's Day 2016, the French restaurant said au revoir. "We've come to see that it's not fiscally feasible to continue to operate laV at its current level," the owner said. "Rather than cutting corners or providing an experience that doesn't hold up to the high standards we've set for ourselves, we've decided to close the restaurant."
Bridget Dunlap of Rainey Street fame closed her first restaurant concept, Mettle, just days after laV's shutter. Mettle opened in summer 2013 as one of the most anticipated restaurants of the season. Unfortunately, lots of anticipation and a popular Sunday brunch couldn't save the restaurant. Dunlap ATX reported that the decision to close was based on lagging sales.
In February, news of Arro's closure surprised the restaurant community. In a strange twist of fate, Dunlap ATX acquired the space from Elm Restaurant Group and quickly transformed it into a bar called Parlor & Yard.
High-end, vegetable-focused restaurant Gardner opened in fall 2014 and served its last meal in early March. The team quickly converted the space into Chicon, a casual concept that serves as a sister restaurant to popular outpost Contigo.
Finn & Porter
After nearly 12 years at the Hilton Austin, Finn & Porter closed its doors in April. The fine-dining establishment shuttered to make way for two new concepts in the hotel, including a new spot helmed by former Finn & Porter chef Peter Maffei.
El Arroyo: Far West
El Arroyo's 20-year-old outpost in the Far West neighborhood closed up shop in April. "The store really needed to be remodeled," said owner and Austin Landmarks CEO Ellis Winstanley. "And we weren't interested in renewing with that landlord due to an ongoing dispute between us." Thankfully, the original El Arroyo on West Fifth Street is still open.
Long-awaited Al Fico abruptly shuttered in May due to lease issues, after only six months of service. The concept from owners Jeff Courington and Kelly Bell (who are also behind Vino Vino) had been in the works for several years, and it debuted to critical acclaim as part of Austin's ongoing fascination with Italian fare.
After debuting downtown in 2007, Sagra reopened on East 11th Street in 2013 with a much-loved brunch, all-you-can-eat mussels, and fresh-baked pizzas. Unfortunately, "the costs of maintaining a large location downtown were just too much," said owners Gabriel and Sarwat Pellegrini. The restaurant held its final service in May.
The Cajun eatery from Dunlap ATX and chef Lynzy Moran, which took over the shuttered Mettle space abruptly, closed in late May, just three months after opening. While Dunlap ATX will try its hand at yet another concept in the space sometime in the future, Moran has plans of her own.
Fork & Vine
Anderson Lane favorite Fork & Vine won our Tastemaker Award for Best New Restaurant in 2015. Despite filling a void in the area, Fork & Vine was unable to reconcile a lease dispute and shuttered in June.
The oldest Thai restaurant in Austin closed in mid-June after almost 30 years of service. But this isn't the last you'll hear from chef/owner Dr. Foo Swasdee, who plans to open the nation's first rentable restaurant in the space.
Kin & Comfort
The counter-service restaurant inside Hana World Market shuttered last week. Kin & Comfort was the unique concept from chef/owner Ek Timrerk, who served up a mixture of Southern and Thai cuisines to devoted fans.