CINCINNATI -- Even as the Queen City's red-hot dining scene gears up for more new restaurants in 2017, the city also saw its share of restaurant closings this year -- some abrupt, others gracefully scheduled.
Here's a sampling of restaurants we said good-bye to this year.
Bella Luna (4632 Eastern Ave., Linwood)
At 69 years old, seasoned restaurateur Harry Stephens is wrapping up his career in hospitality and headed for retirement. On Nov. 29, Stephens announced his plans to close his restaurant, Bella Luna, at the end of the year so that he could start his retirement on Jan. 1. Since 2003, the eclectic Bella Luna has served Italian cuisine that often reaches into Stephens' Italian roots, and the restaurant is fully booked through its closing day on New Year's Eve.
Park + Vine (1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine)
The green general store with a vegan food counter will close on Jan. 15, 2017, after its annual Chili Cook-off. Owner Danny Korman announced his plans on Nov. 29 on his Park + Vine blog, citing a desire "to do something else." Korman is going out on a high note, though: The retailer is seeing its best sales in its history this year, he said.
Meatball Kitchen (2912 Vine St., Corryville)
Fans learned about Meatball Kitchen's closure in September, when chef Jason Louda announced it via Facebook. In its two-year run, this Short Vine restaurant served a creative menu centered on meatballs. Customers picked their choice of meatballs (pork, beef, turkey, vegetarian or gluten-free), "platform" (pasta, greens or bread) and sauce (marinara, meat or bechamel). Beer, wine and creative sides such as Sriracha sweet potato mash also were available.
Enoteca Emilia (2038 Madison Road, O'Bryonville)
Enoteca Emilia enjoyed a popular run with shareable plates of contemporary interpretations of Italian classics. Offerings included an assortment of cured meats and cheeses, njuda, osso bucco and ricotta beignets. For five years, the restaurant welcomed customers with its casual space and a satisfying wine list -- living up to the "enoteca" (wine shop) in its name. Business came to a sudden halt in July when owners Roger and Margaret Ranalli announced the restaurant's closing via Facebook. The owners' subsequent communication pointed to a dispute with their landlord as the cause.
Son of a Preacher Man (3009 O'Bryon St., O'Bryonville)
Son of a Preacher Man, also owned by the Ranallis, closed at the same time as Enoteca Emilia; both restaurants shared the same landlord. In its single year of operation, Son of a Preacher Man made its mark with Southern comfort food, offering hearty items such as fried chicken, biscuits, mac and cheese, and shrimp and grits.
Daveed's (934 Hatch St., Mount Adams)
David and Liz Cook, the husband-and-wife team behind Daveed's, bid farewell to the restaurant business when they sold the restaurant building in Mount Adams this summer. The Cooks launched Daveed's 17 years ago as a fine-dining restaurant, allowing David, a classically trained chef, to showcase his haute cuisine chops. They moved from Mount Adams in 2012 to open the more casual Daveed's NEXT in Loveland. In 2015, the Cooks returned to operate Daveed's in Mount Adams. Since the sale of the building, the Cooks have focused solely on their catering business and "Fatty & Skinny" brand of sauces and rubs.
15 North Pizza (15 N. Fort Thomas Ave., Fort Thomas)
The pizzeria opened in May last year, offering gourmet wood-fired pizza, salads, small plates and sweets alongside wine, craft beer and cocktails. On Nov. 17, it announced its impending closure on Facebook. Named for its address, this pizzeria in Fort Thomas' Central Business District held a series of beer dinners right up until closing day on Nov. 29.
Don Pablo's (401 Riverboat Row, Newport)
After more than two decades on Newport's riverfront, Tex-Mex chain restaurant Don Pablo's permanently closed its doors in August. Don Pablo's was known for its Tex-Mex cuisine, served with made-from-scratch salsa and tortillas. WCPO subsequently reported that the closure stemmed from the owners choosing not to make necessary building repairs. The Newport housing inspector had pointed to a structural issue and declared the building "unfit for human occupancy." The Don Pablo's location in Rookwood is still open, though.
Crave (175 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown)
An early tenant at the Banks, Crave closed its doors in September after a four-year stint. This Maryland-based chain restaurant was known for its trendy American fare along with Mediterranean and Asian-inspired touches. WCPO reported that Crave was behind on rent as far back as January 2015. Crave continues to operate its other locations.
Grace Yek writes about food for WCPO.com. She is a certified chef-de-cuisine with the American Culinary Federation, and a former chemical engineer. Questions or comments? @Grace Yek