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Fiamma Closes: The Bigger Picture

Eater.com reports that Fiamma, Stephen Hanson’s acclaimed SoHo Italian spot, has closed. Two thoughts immediately spring to mind.

Number one, this is the first “recession-related” closure that I’m actually sad about. I never got around to dining at Fiamma, but it was obviously a first-class place. The other closures I’ve seen lately were marginal restaurants that most people won’t miss. They were either not very good, not very important, or both. Bear in mind that the restaurant industry always has a high failure rate. Many of these places would have failed anyway—though perhaps not as soon.

Number two, Fiamma was part of a large empire: Stephen Hanson’s B. R. Guest, with almost twenty restaurants under its wing (before today). In theory, Hanson might have had the resources to subsidize losses at his most acclaimed restaurant with revenues from some of the others. To know whether that made sense, we’d need to know his overall financial picture, but you’ve got to figure it was considered.

The point is that many restaurants at Fiamma’s level aren’t part of a big conglomerate. If revenues are down, the owner has nowhere else to go. If Fiamma couldn’t make it, then what about everyone else?

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