Three Down 

Century, Parker's, and Sage depart the dining scene.

The past month has seen announcements of three high-profile closings, including Century in downtown's Ritz-Carlton, Sage Bistro in Tremont, and Parker's New American Bistro in Ohio City, which will remain open through year's end.

Allegedly, none of the shutdowns came for financial reasons -- though it's fair to assume that if these spots had been making major moola, they would have found a way to muddle on. In any case, each closure carries a cost for the community.

For instance, while Parker's 67-year-old founder and namesake Parker Bosley is obviously delighted to be free of the constraints of restaurant ownership and to pursue his work with the region's farmers, the demise of the bistro -- recently named one of Gourmet's 50 best in America -- will be a major blow to the culinary landscape, especially for proponents of environmentally and nutritionally progressive "slow food" techniques. Equally unfortunate, the closing will remove chef Andy Strizak from the public purview.

At Sage, chef-owners Michael Fadel and Nick DeCocco say that their October 1 closing was all about spending more time with their families. No argument there, but we regret the loss of two more well-respected talents, with unique visions and sensibilities. And until new tenants are found, the highly visible building on Lincoln Park will be just another empty storefront.

As for Century, Ritz spokeswoman Lynn Coletto says that the decision to close had nothing to do with economics and everything to do with staying "ahead of the curve," moving away from formal feasting and toward the trendier "small plates" concept adopted by the hotel's new sixth-floor restaurant, Muse. Upscale Century may not have been an everyday dining spot, but its elegant ambiance and national visibility (with high rankings in both the Zagat Survey and the AAA Travel Guide) undoubtedly helped bolster the region's claim to top-notch dining.

Fortunately, the news isn't all bad. Restaurateurs Mike and Liz Symon have just relaunched their long-awaited Lola on East Fourth Street. And Fabio Salerno recently opened the promising Italian restaurant Lago in Tremont. Still, it's clear that if diners want the type of diverse, engaging scene enjoyed by other major cities, we must support our independently owned restaurants. After all, what will become of the region's next crop of dynamic, inventive chefs and dining rooms, if we're all eating at Red Robin?


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