These final few weeks of the year are seeing a rush of restaurant openings and closings around town.
LMNO'Pies closed its doors rather suddenly last week after it lost its lease. The Fitchburg bakery and coffeeshop has also been going through challenging times since owner and baker Lindsay Gehl's daughter was diagnosed with leukemia in September. "This is very difficult for us," Gehl writes on the bakery and cafe's website. The past five years with the bakery have been "a dream come true. However, Caitlynn's battle against leukemia is our first priority."
Gehl will be reopening a smaller operation on Seybold Road, concentrating on delivery and catering. Also, when the weather gets warmer, the LMNO'Pies food cart will return to the Capitol Square. Despite initial promises to be dishing out hearty pasties and pie bites throughout the winter, the frigid weather turned out to be a greater impediment than anticipated. Gehl will be fulfilling holiday pie and other baked goods orders "to the best of our ability."
And more openings, closings, and expectations...
Thai restaurant Vientiane Palace, the one around the corner from The Plaza on Henry Street, will be opening a second location soon in the former Trapani Pizza location at 1441 Regent Street, possibly even today.
Mongolian barbecue chains are opening on the east and west sides, meanwhile. BD's Mongolian Gill will be opening in half of the old Carlos O'Kelly's near East Towne, while a HuHot Mongolian Grill and Barbecue is planned for 610 Junction Road, west of the Beltline off Old Sauk Road. These chains are make-your-own-stir-fry emporia like the Flat Top Grill already in place at Hilldale -- grab a bowl, pick rice or noodles, ladle on the veggies, proteins and sauces and then watch as the staff griddles up the works.
Both HuHot and BD's marketing feature what might be perceived by the culturally sensitive as somewhat pejorative references to Mongolia. HuHot refers to dessert as "the final pillage," for instance, and BD's refers to in-store events as "horde happenings." Nonetheless, BD's gives back, contributing to a charity called the Mongolian Youth Development Foundation. And it is the first U.S.-based Mongolian grill -- in fact, the first U.S.-based restaurant of any kind -- to open a branch in Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar, as a matter of fact. What, no McDonald's in Ulaanbaatar?
Finally, what better time than an economic downturn to get romantic? That's if you want to date mid-week, as Wednesday night specials are proliferating. Two decent deals: Tex Tubb's Taco Palace is offering chips and guacamole, a fajita for two and dessert for $20; and, a date at the Cloud 9 Grille includes dinner for two with a bottle of wine and dessert to share, $40.