Fires, deaths, divorces, and plain ol' rotten luck matched economics, sociology, and politics when it came to causes of restaurant failure in 2006. Maybe the biggest surprise was that new ones kept opening. Here are the highlights:
Downtown arrivals were highlighted by Peruvian Machu Picchu, intimate Muse in the Ritz-Carlton, long-awaited Lola, which finally launched on East Fourth Street, and her new neighbors, The Corner Alley and The 4th Street Bar & Grill, which brought bowling, booze, and burgers to the mix.
Downtown departures included highly acclaimed Classics at the InterContinental Hotel and Century (which became Muse) at the Ritz, as well as soul-food spot Gookies, Castaldi's Market & Grill, and Hornblower's Barge & Grill.
Elsewhere in Cleveland, the Warehouse District gained Gillespie's Map Room, Jac's, and Sinergy, and Tremont's Lago sailed into Theory's old dock, while Ty Fun Thai Bistro transformed the former Flying Pig Barbecue Company into a silk purse. Phnom Penh's second location debuted on West 25th in Ohio City, not far from where Momocho transformed the former Fulton Bar & Grill.
Sage Bistro checked out in '06, but Cleveland's biggest loss came with last week's closing of nationally acclaimed Parker's New American Bistro.
Further west, Giovanna's folded on Clifton Boulevard; a few months later, Velocity American Bistro moved to the same address, only to be chased out by fire. (Look for a mid-winter return.) And in Lakewood, gains included Melt Bar & Grilled, Venezia, and India Garden.
Another fire, this one in Bainbridge, shuttered Firefly Seafood & Steak. Other East Side losses included Woodmere's Bossa Nova and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Caesar's Bar-B-Que in Warrensville Heights, Mentor's Cowboy Food & Drink, Burton's Alessi's at the Welshfield Inn, Willowick's Brass Tap Bar & Grille, and Johnny Mango World Café and Bar in Willoughby.
In the plus column, Michaelangelo's opened in Little Italy, Tannour launched in Pepper Pike, and Karma on Coventry was reincarnated as Mint Café in Cleveland Heights.
And to the south, diners said ciao to Serio's on the Square (Twinsburg), Park City Diner (Valley View), and Jacob Good Downtown (Akron), but welcomed Thyme (Medina), Piatto Novo (Cuyahoga Falls), and Hudson's Restaurant on the Green.