Another Bellingham restaurant closes: The Bistro on Magnolia
The latest fatality is The Bistro on Magnolia. I never even made it through the doors to eat there but it seems like they had some loyal fans. The closure list for the more expensive restaurants is getting long. Guess we (and most other people in Bellingham) don't go out to eat at expensive restaurants often enough. Why? We simply can't afford to! More moderate priced eateries, like Man Pies for example, are doing great. We just got back from WasaBee and it was busy, as usual. Seems like Bayou on Bay is always hopping, along with many others.
Don't know if it is just price point or if there were other problems?
Will you miss The Bistro on Magnolia? Nimbus? Nona Rosa? Flats Tapas Bar? Tivoli? The Vines/Du Jour Bistro? We won't since we don't know what we missed. I've only eaten at a few of these places and only once at those few.
PS: Looks like Prospect St. Cafe is reducing their hours and trying to do more catering and booking parties for the restaurant. Hope they make it.
Bellingham just doesn't support the demographics for high-end dining. Almost half are poor college students and almost the other half are most likely unadventurous seniors on a fixed income. Cheap student food-type items do very well with these two large demographics.
Tivoli is pretty nice and I do visit it when I'm in town, but it certainly stands out primarily because it's in a small town. I found it to be a tad on the spendy side considering the food that they served. It seems like it's the same with anything that's remotely exciting or special. I saw a very mediocre bibimbop on the menu of a strip mall pho-slash-Korean place that cost $14 last week. Yikes.
I think you have a slightly skewed impression of the demographics of Bellingham, but I don't have a real answer as to why these places are closing. Certainly not all of the closures are "high-end." I think restaurants and businesses are having a hard time in a lot of towns these days.
To answer Laura's question - I will miss the Bistro and Tivoli and the Vines/Du Jour (oh, Mike. I think that place was a self-fulfilling prophecy). None Rosa was meh. Flats was inaccessible, so I refused to go. Now Fairhaven Pizza is in there, and they seem to be trying to figure out how to make the place accessible. YAY! The owner is such a nice guy - I hope this move grows his business.
Is it just me, or is Bayou on Bay pinching pennies? The collard slaw, once upon a time, actually contained mostly collards. Now it's not remotely collard-containing. They won't get the darn plumbing fixed, so periodically the place smells like sewage, and they just unabashedly blame their landlord. The cocktails are abysmally mixed by whatever server is handy, and if you send it back, you get the equivalent of shrugged shoulders. They're silly stingy with coffee (and they take the cup away to fill it! I hate that.) The servers seem like temporary employees- not really invested in the place. I guess I just find the place a little sad. The food is okay. I've been a lunch regular there for ages, because it's convenient for work lunches with colleagues, so maybe my perspective is skewed.
I need to win the lottery and open a really good pho place downtown.
I'm super excited about Brandywine too. I'm going to drag all my friends who work nearby there as soon as it opens. I hope they market to the surrounding office workers - my building is chock full of people with disposable income. They just aren't foodies, so they have to be led in the right direction. I think the Bistro folks figured this out just before they called it quits. Just a few weeks prior, the owners were yakking with some friends and I about marketing to the city/county employees and the building I'm in.
I never even heard of The Bistro, but I'm sorry to hear yet another restaurant is down. Flats and Tivoli are sorely missed. I love Prospect but can't afford to eat there often. We were delighted to discover Bayou on the Bay and especially its fantastic Oyster Bar - I hope they continue to do well.
Flats was doing fine until the original owner/chef moved on - I was sorry to see that the new owner changed all of the most popular dishes for no apparent reason. But Tivoli always seemed quiet when we went in, as did The Vines the one time we ate there. Not sure what the problem is with nice dining options in Bellingham. Although if you think you have it bad, trust me - Mount Vernon is much worse. If it's not a brewpub, forget it - it won't last.
The rate of restaurant closures here is pretty staggering. The loss of Tivoli was a real heartbreak for us, by far our local favorite. Each restaurant that closes is just a little more erosion of our paltry food scene. To thrive in Bellingham, I think you need to offer cheap drinks, fast food, and loud TV. None of which I am seeking.
The plus side to this? I'm cooking like crazy, expanding my cuisines and my skills. Perhaps it's time to start a Bellingham cooking/supper club!