Telltale Signs Your Favorite Restaurant Could Be Closing

The restaurant business has always been a tough one. Throw in a pandemic, labor problems, rising rent costs, and food supply shortages and it turns from "tough" to "punishing" in a big, fat hurry. 

Obviously, 2020 was an extra challenging year for the food industry, and it doesn't seem to be bouncing totally back anytime soon. Although restaurant sales in 2020 still totaled $659 billion, that's down a whopping $240 billion from what was forecasted, says the National Restaurant Association. There are also 3.1 million fewer restaurant employees than expected, and 110,000 restaurant locations closed, either permanently or temporarily. 

With any luck, your favorite restaurant will dodge this unfortunate trend, but there are some signs to look out for to know if it's in danger of closing its doors. Some are obvious, some not so much, according to the Washington City Paper. The D.C. publication was able to connect with people who know firsthand, as the restaurant industry in the nation's capital is still very much riding the struggle bus.

These are some of the signs a restaurant is struggling

One of the big signs is a restaurant that to try too much to get your business, it's a clear indication that things aren't going as well as they want. So, if they're suddenly advertising reduced price Happy Hours or extra OpenTable dining points for normally peak hours, things could be dicey.

Too much fundamental change is also a bad sign. If the previously familiar restaurant staff is full of new faces, it could mean that your faves left for greener pastures. Or, if the menu shrinks significantly, that's often a signal that the kitchen staff has been pared back. Same goes for the host station. If no one is there to greet diners when they arrive, it is likely a cost-cutting measure. 

The bad news doesn't end there, however. If hours or days of operation get cut back, that's a sure sign that the spot isn't stable. Ditto if they totally cut out services like Sunday brunch, or reduce portion sizes drastically. Another warning sign is if a previously chic and well-maintained restaurant starts to physically fall to pieces. Untended repairs or worn décor due for replacing could mean that they're not willing to invest anymore into the space than they already have.

Lastly, if the place starts charging for entry after a certain point in the evening, you're probably about to kiss it good-bye. If they have to incorporate fees for dancing or change the place's purpose altogether, then all is not well. 

If your favorite hang isn't showing any of these signs, it's probably safe. Just make sure to keep patronizing it if you want it to stay that way.