Utah’s dining scene is always evolving.
In 2019, it welcomed dozens of new restaurants and food trucks while also saying goodbye to several longtime favorites. And two iconic eateries — The Five Alls and Robintino’s — were gone but are in the process of being resurrected.
The reasons why these restaurants closed vary — some owners retired, moved or got sick, while others couldn’t pay the bills
Here’s an alphabetical list of some notable restaurant closures of the past 12 months.
Alamexo Cantina • Chef/owner Matthew Lake closed this financially struggling restaurant in March rather than try to endure a road project that would take months to complete. Tsunami Restaurant and Sushi Bar took over the space but didn’t open until fall — when the construction was finished.
Aristo’s • The loss of its state liquor license forced this popular Greek restaurant near the University of Utah to shut down after 16 years in business. The space did not remain empty for long, though. Eduardo Daja and chef Marco Cuttaia, previously of Sicilia Mia, recently opened Osteria Amore.
Billy B’s Hash House • Restaurant owner Glen Overton closed this Midvale eatery in May after only a few months in business. Overton called it “a great concept and a great location,” but he discovered shortly after opening that the partner running the day-to-day operations had not been paying the bills. When the utilities were turned off and the state called about back taxes, Overton and the remaining partners decided they could not bail out a sinking ship.
Cafe Anh Hong • This popular dim sum restaurant — located in a strip mall on State Street — shuttered in October after more than 25 years in business. A Facebook post said it would be closed “until we find a new location.”
Cakewalk Baking Co. • When owner Kelly Green launched her bakery in 2009, it became one of the first vegan eateries in the state, quickly becoming known for the signature Twinkie-like snack cakes, called Dillos. She closed in April to pursue other passions.
Cedars of Lebanon • Believed to be the first Lebanese/Armenian restaurant in Salt Lake City, Cedars closed in May after 38 years in business. Owners Raffi and Marlen Daghlian went into semiretirement and leased the space, 152 E. 200 South, to the local franchise owner of Curry Up Now, a fast-casual restaurant chain from San Francisco.
Create Donuts Co. • This 4-year-old dessert shop — which offered customers a chance to design their own doughnuts and brownies with gooey glazes, candy sprinkles and dollops of fruit and whipped cream — shut down in July. The owner’s health problems prompted the closure.
Eklektik • The husband and wife team of Sion Croudo and Aliza Levy closed their restaurant, thrift store and art gallery to move closer to family in California and Mexico. The space at 60 E. 800 South is now Pasha Middle Eastern Cuisine.
The Five Alls • This 50-year-old restaurant shut down in April when founder Richard Halliday became ill and was unable to continue working. A former employee has been renovating the spot on Foothill Drive and, in early 2020, plans to bring back the Scottish menu as well as the signature clam dip and breadstick appetizer. Stay tuned.
Kowloon Cafe • After 60 years in business, owner Raymond Wang sold this quintessential Chinese American restaurant and retired. His daughter and co-owner has since opened two fast-casual restaurants, called Tokyo Teriyaki, in Midvale and Salt Lake City.
The Oaks • Owners Keith and Belinda Rounkles operated one of Utah’s oldest restaurants for nearly four decades before deciding earlier this year to close and sell the property. It remains on the market. The building up Ogden Canyon was one of several sites used in the new Lifetime TV movie “The Road Home for Christmas,” which stars Marie Osmond.
Paris Bistro • The abrupt departure of this French-inspired restaurant and bar in January shocked residents in Salt Lake City’s 15th and 15th neighborhood, where it had operated since 2001. Even employees were caught off guard. The space has since been remodeled and is now La Trattoria di Francesco, a new concept by the owners of Sicilia Mia restaurants.
Robintino’s • This Bountiful landmark, which abruptly closed in August, reopened a few days before Christmas. William Bruce, who owns and operates seven ’Bout Time Pub and Grub eateries in Utah, signed a 20-year lease with Bob and Merrilee McCall, who founded the restaurant in 1964. Bruce has kept the original Italian recipes but added some modern updates.
Twin Suns Cafe • Chef Daniel Cantu was forced to shutter his “Star Wars” themed restaurant in Sugar House after the building was sold to a developer.