To everything, churn, churn, churn.
(Apologies to the Byrds, Pete Seeger, and the Book of Ecclesiastes.)
The restaurant business is nothing if not for openings, closings, and assorted moves.
Running down the 2015 Philadelphia restaurant scene, we saw a slew of openings - many more than the number of closings.
2015 was the year that Center City lost its Olive Garden but gained a Cheesecake Factory. It also lost The Melting Pot, which moved to Maple Shade.
Retro was big, as was farm-to-table. BYOBs generally faded in favor of more lucrative bars. (Take Plenty Cafe, with two locations and a third on the way - all liquor-licensed.) Korean fried chicken is still raging; aficionados should note that the Blue Bell branch of Cafe Soho closed and the building was razed.
Based on general buzz, 2015's better-received openings include:
A La Mousse (luxe dessert shop in Chinatown)
Andy's Chicken (Korean fried chicken in a corner takeout in Fishtown)
Bar Bombon (vegan taqueria on Rittenhouse)
Besito (chain-ish upmarket Mexican in Ardmore)
Big Gay Ice Cream (the "thing" from New York comes to Broad and South)
Bing Bing Dim Sum (hipster Asian on East Passyunk)
BonChon Chicken (Korean fried chicken in Chinatown)
Brick & Barrel (lots of beers in Maple Glen)
Brick and Mortar (bar in Callowhill)
Bryn & Dane's (fast-growing, healthful cafe opens branch in Plymouth Meeting)
Buckminster's (neo-bistro in Point Breeze)
Bud & Marilyn's (contemporary riffs on midcentury Americana in Washington Square West)
Buena Onda (Jose Garces' surfer taco shop in Logan Square)
Coeur (Montreal-ish bar for Bella Vista)
Craftsman Row Saloon (the old Coco's on Jeweler's Row is cleaned up)
DanDan (creative Chinese bar in Center City)
Franky Bradley's (retro dining in Washington Square West)
Gennaro's (it moved to East Passyunk, where it subsumed Grace & Pat's, its sibling)
Gran Caffe L'Aquila (multipurpose Italian - breakfast to late night, with stellar gelato - in Rittenhouse)
Helm (two ambitious chefs knocking it out of the park at a BYOB in Kensington)
Harvest Seasonal Grill (a Moorestown Mall location - part of a huge syndication of this calorie-conscious chain)
Heffe (edgy taco shack in Fishtown)
Heritage (bar/restaurant/jazz/funk in Northern Liberties)
Kanella South (Konstantinos Pitsillides' Cypriot relocated from its BYOB location in Washington Square West to Queen Village)
La Casa de tu Madre (Mexican in Bella Vista)
LP Steak (Luke Palladino's steakhouse at Valley Forge Casino)
Maido (Japanese grocery adds dining in its new Ardmore location)
Mainland Inn (a farm-to-table showpiece near Lansdale)
Malvern Buttery (novel cafe in Malvern)
Martha (hipster bar in Kensington)
Mercer Cafe (the new branch at the Navy Yard, partnered with Tacconelli's pizza)
Misconduct Tavern's second location, at 18th Street and JFK Boulevard, across from the Comcast Center (and next to the future Comcast tower)
Nom Wah Tea Parlor (NYC's eggroll specialist sets up in Chinatown)
The Olde Bar (Jose Garces' reimagination of an oyster house on the former site of Bookbinder's in Old City)
Pizzeria Felici (pizza and Italian apps in Horsham)
Pour House (beer, beer, and more beer - 40 on tap - in North Wales)
Pop Shop (diner opens branch in Medford)
P'unk Burger (burger shop for East Passyunk)
The Restaurant at Wyebrook Farm (literally a farm-to-table specialist, in Chester County)
Restaurant Neuf (Noord's sexy North African sibling in the Italian Market)
Roberts Block (nifty bar at the Glenside train statiion)
Sabrina's Cafe (the fifth, in Collingswood)
SameSame (Vietnamese street food in Northern Liberties)
Scratch Biscuits (biscuit sandwiches and other Southern flavors in Washington Square West)
SouthGate (Korean-influenced bar in Graduate Hospital)
Spuntino (Neapolitan pizza in Northern Liberties)
Square Pie (thick, New York-style pizza in Queen Village)
Stargazy (British pies on East Passyunk)
Tio Flores (deafeningly lively Mexican bar on South Street West)
Tired Hands Fermentaria (the brewery's killer brewpub offshoot in Ardmore)
Tredici (gorgeous Italian offshoot of Zavino in Washington Square West)
Triangle Tavern (the resurrection of the South Philly landmark red-gravy bar)
Tria Fitler Square (the fourth and most refined version of the wine-cheese-beer specialists)
26 North BYOB (chef Mike Stollenwerk's return, with a seafood BYOB in Old City)
Urban Farmer (stellar early reports about the farm-to-table steakhouse in the new Logan)
Vesper (swanky dinner/drinks/supper club in Rittenhouse)
Victory Brewing's pub in Parkesburg
Whetstone Tavern (regional American in Queen Village)
White Dog Cafe's expansion to Haverford
Xolo (family friendly Mexican bar in Bryn Mawr)
Yard House (beer, beer, and more beer - 150 taps! - in Moorestown Mall)
2015 also was the year that Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin sold their restaurant empire - except for the flagship Vetri on Spruce Street - to Urban Outfitters. Shortly before the announcement, the partners jettisoned the Moorestown Mall location of Osteria. URBN plans to concentrate on Pizzeria Vetri and has planned to open an Amis and a Pizzeria Vetri at a new project on the books for Devon. There's also a new location in Austin, Texas.
As for the closings, we have no power over the sand in the hourglass. Sometimes a restaurant lasts 103 years (Snockey's). Sometimes it lasts 65 years (The Towne House in Media). Or 32 years (Pine Street Pizza). Or 24 years (Derek's). Sometimes, it's 6 months (Juniper Commons and Fourth & Cross). Or 4 months (Guild Hall Brewing Co.).
Other significant 2015 closings included Rittenhouse Square's Smith & Wollensky, The Treemont (now Fine Palate), Good Stuff Eatery (to become a cheesesteak shop), Matyson (now Milkhouse), and 500º (to become a Snap Custom Pizza), PYT in the Piazza at Schmidt's, Meritage in Graduate Hospital, Lemon Hill in Fairmount (now The Black Taxi), Heirloom in Chestnut Hill, Verdad in Bryn Mawr, Margaret Kuo's Peking in Granite Run Mall, Avero in Devon, the Coastline in Cherry Hill, Al Dente in Moorestown, Blue2O in Cherry Hill, Varalli on the Avenue of the Arts, Chiarella's on East Passyunk, Supper on South Street, Tashan in South Philadelphia, Beast & Ale in Manayunk (now Anastasi Raw Bar), Rosa Blanca in Washington Square West, Tuk Tuk Real on South Street (now a Circles Thai), Table 8 Bistro in Collingswood (about to become a Circles Thai), Ulivo in Queen Village (now Imli), Society Hill Society in Society Hill (now Malbec Argentine Steakhouse), Il Cantuccio in Northern Liberties, Geechee Girl Rice Cafe in Mount Airy, and Susanna Foo in Radnor (becoming a Harvest Seasonal Grill in 2016).
Friday Saturday Sunday, the longest-running white-tablecloth restaurant in Center City, closed over the summer after its sale to chef Chad Williams and fiancee Hannah Whitaker. They plan to renovate and reopen in 2016.
Southwark in Queen Village met a similar fate as Sheri and Kip Waide sold to chef Chris D'Ambro and front-of-the-house veteran Marina De Oliveira. It's closed for now during renovation.
The Water Works, near Boathouse Row, was sold. Under Joe Volpe's Cescaphe Event Group, it will be open only for private events.
See Sunday's Inquirer for Craig LaBan's Year in Bells, and check back here next week for my 2016 restaurant look-ahead.