Today, Eater confirms that Olana has closed. The handwriting was on the wall after Olana filed for bankruptcy in December. We were surprised it lasted this long; bankruptcy is not a step that many restaurants survive.
So what killed Olana? At its fairly expensive price point, it needed to be a destination restaurant. But it attracted few reviews—crucially, none from the Times. In New York, Adam Platt awarded two stars, which was about right.
We’re no fans of Platt’s, but we have to agree that he had Olana nailed, when he described the décor as “overwrought,” and observed that “the location might be a killer.” We rather liked Olana’s décor, but we’re old-fashioned that way, and we realize that the average diner these days is put off by white tablecloths and velvet chairs. Such places can still succeed, but there isn’t much margin for error.
As for the location, it could hardly be worse: Madison Avenue between 27th and 28th Streets, a transit and culinary dead zone.
We would add that most diners probably had no idea what the name “Olana” even referred to. (It’s the Hudson Valley home of the artist Frederic Edwin Church.) The menu didn’t really evoke the Hudson Valley theme particularly well. If that was the idea, another name might have conveyed it better.