Eleven years in downtown West Chester. Rave reviews from every food publication.

And now it seems as if anyone holding a gift certificate to Gilmore's restaurant is out of luck.

The restaurant closed after dinner July 14.

On July 16, owner Peter Gilmore told me that he decided to close the restaurant only days before because he had grown tired and wanted to "go out on top."

On July 18, he notified customers of the closing in an email that concluded: "If you have any inquiries, please send them in writing to: Gilmore's Restaurant, 133 East Gay Street, West Chester, PA 19380."

On July 20, I spoke to him about gift certificates and he told me that John Brandt-Lee, who owns Avalon in the borough, would honor them at 50 percent of face value. But, I replied, if you're going to give refunds, why would anyone take up Brandt-Lee's generous offer?

Gilmore said he would proceed on his attorney's suggestions.

In the last 10 days, Gilmore has not returned subsequent calls and emails. People have posted on the restaurant's Facebook page to inquire about gift certificates; there's been no response.

Those with gift certificates are indeed owed money, but if history is any guide, they're better off using their card as an ice scraper this winter.

When a restaurateur truly cares about his customers, he announces a closing well in advance  - much as Gilmore's former longtime boss, Georges Perrier, did. Give those with gift cards a chance to use them. Bask in the glow a little.

Because there is no expiration date printed on Gilmore's gift cards, they do not have to be turned over to the state as unclaimed property. (By law, a business has to turn over to the Treasury the value of expired gift certificates after two years.)

Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, said his office sometimes can pry a refund. Those holding gift certificates to Gilmore's or any closed business can lodge a complaint by calling 1-800-441-2555. Those filing should have documentation ready.