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Top 9: Restaurants we said goodbye to in 2015

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Posted at 12:17 PM, Dec 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-29 12:26:06-05

The average life span of a restaurant is 18 months. It's a tough business: Profit margins are slim, the hours are difficult and the work is grueling.

Here, in Cincinnati, restaurants seem to last a lot longer, so when they close, we notice. Here are nine eateries that closed in 2015 that we'll really miss.

1. Virgil's Café (Bellevue): Once a featured restaurant on Guy Fieri's “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” Virgil's was known for its homey atmosphere, hot slaw, steak poutine and seasonal items such as schnecken. Chef Matt Buschle closed Virgil's in mid-December.

2. Paula's Café (Downtown): After 25 years of serving Seven-Minute Burgers, creamy chicken soup and chili in Dixie Terminal, Paula's closed on Dec. 23. The recipes and concept are for sale to anyone who might be interested in reopening it, and hopefully someone does: I miss that Seven-Minute Burger already.

3. Cafe de Vine (Downtown): Cafe de Vine provided breakfast and lunch to busy Downtown workers for years. It was fast and satisfying, but unfortunately the new apartment building that is replacing the offices upstairs doesn't need a windowless cafe. The Creeches, who have owned the business for the past 12 years, are looking to relocate Downtown, but there has been no word on where or when.

4. Cumin/Ash American Fare (Hyde Park): Cumin started out as high-end Indian cuisine. By the time then-chef Owen Maas left, it was known for creative, inspired cuisine; it later transitioned to Ash, which closed just after the new year. Maas is now heading E+O Kitchen (in the former Beluga and Dancing Wasabi space), and former Cumin owner Alex Mchaiki is now focusing on his Tunisian date importation business.

5. Arloi Dee (Mason): Arloi Dee, a perennial favorite at Taste of Cincinnati, where several of its dishes were named "best" over the year, closed in 2015. Ownership is focusing on Budina in West Chester, which serves some of the same dishes but can't match the charm of the building just off of Mason-Montgomery Road.

6. Straits of Malacca (Mason): Straits of Malacca served superb Malaysian food (a cuisine that is a melting pot of many Asian cuisines, including Chinese, Thai, Indonesian and Indian), cooked by Jean-Robert de Cavel pro·té·gé Paul Lieuw. It was three restaurants in one: fine dining, tapas and a brunch-and-lunch-only cafe. We'll miss this addition to the culinary landscape in Cincinnati and hope to see Lieuw take his Malaysian cuisine someplace else in Cincinnati.

7. Eat! Mobile Dining: We've seen a lot of food trucks come and go since they started in 2010: Cafe de Wheels, Taco Azul and, most recently, Eat Mobile Dining. Instead of the usual hamburgers, tacos or street food, Eat served sandwiches and salads. I loved the paneer sandwich: a thick slice of paneer on whole grain bread with tamarind onions. (The truck is still for sale, if you're looking to start a food truck business. Just be sure to add that sandwich to your menu, please.)

8. Servatii on Court Street (Downtown): I still can't figure out why this location closed: It seemed to do a good business, serving local Kroger employees, lawyers from the courthouse and city and county employees, too. After temporarily closing when a car drove into the building, it reopened for a short while, then ultimately decided to close. I'll miss seeing the cakes in the window and grabbing pastries to take to parties, but thankfully you can still get Servatii products elsewhere in the city.

9. Joe's Diner (Over-the-Rhine): This restaurant is not officially closed, but any time of day I pass by -- whether it's morning, afternoon or late at night -- it's never open. Its Facebook page is abandoned. At its peak, though, you could get pancakes, eggs, patty melts -- all of the traditional diner fare -- late into the night and fairly early in the morning. Considering how few quick, inexpensive breakfast options there are available Downtown, particularly on weekends, some consistent hours might be a good thing.