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The Year's Nine Biggest Restaurant Industry Stories

Wolfgang Puck's Postrio, 1989-2009.
Wolfgang Puck's Postrio, 1989-2009.

9) Alice Waters kept fighting the good fight, but often drifted off into her own little alternate universe. She voted for the first time in 42 years, she asked for a $27 billion bailout (Mark Bittman quickly set her straight on this request), she made wood-fired eggs on 60 Minutes, she expressed her distaste for "lesser reporters" like weathermen, she relayed her desire for local shark fin soup, suggested that CA schools need more flowers, and rocked out to Radiohead.

8) The Anti-Yelp Crusade Intensified. A Yelper got sued (and later settled), newspapers wrote exposes, Pizzeria Delfina made awesome Yelp quote t-shirts, but far and away the most memorable Yelp feud involved Kozy Kar, which put a funny photo of a complaining Yelper on its website. That, and the comments thread that ensued, soon became the stuff of legend.

7) Nate Appleman "left" his two restaurants. Rarely does the restaurant world get hit with such a tabloid-y story, but when it came out that the decorated Appleman suddenly was out at his two SF spots and NYC-bound, waves were made. But really, with all due respect to the shining new exec chefs at A16 and SPQR, the best thing that came out of the whole situation was clearly The Nate-O-Matic.

6) Big-name chefs opted for casual offshoots Daniel Patterson opened Il Cane Rosso, Roland Passot opened the La Folie lounge, Hubert Keller opened Burger Bar, Traci Des Jardins will welcome Mijita and Public House, and to a lesser extent, even Michael Mina tried his hand at reinventing the wine bar concept in RN74.

5) But—but!—some brave souls tried to revive fine dining in the midst of the pizza explosion. Coverage: Saison, Commis, and all the news from the Quince phenomenon: the hot new interior, how it installed its prized stove, and the 3.5 stars.

4) Many notable heavyweights shuttered: Baraka, Eloise, Jack Falstaff, Mecca, Two, Postrio, Jeanty at Jack's, Zinnia, Bong Su, Carnelian Room, Acme, South, Laiola, Pres a Vi, Palace Steak House, Eccolo, Cortez, Bistro Aix, Azie

3) David Chang made fig comment in passing, but oversensitive SF became laughingstock of food world after crying about it. Then the Asia Society canceled the MomoBook event, leading Bourdain to get involved, calling San Francisco's Chang ban "absolutely shameful." Finally, everyone had a good laugh about it.

2) Michael Bauer unmasked. Though many will argue that his anonymity is all but a charade nowadays, after decades on the San Francisco dining scene, Mr. Michael Bauer had somehow kept his photo off the internet. That changed this year. Twice.

1) Gourmet closed. Call it a sign of print media woes, a sign of the recession, or a sign of the downscaling food industry, but the death of the iconic magazine broke in October, and then the extensive aftermath ensued.

Other memorable storylines from the year? Let's hear 'em in the comments.

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