Chinese cities are notorious for their pace of change. In particular, restaurants and bars tend to open and close with stunning speed. The editors of Lonely Planet must have a nightmare on their hands trying to keep track of it all. In fact, Shanghaiist’s edition of LP — which we think has only just been superseded — includes entries for Rollo di Pollo (a pizza restaurant at the back of M on the Bund) and Shanghai Sally’s, among other anachronisms. And last year, Time Out released a Shanghai guide which, in the space of about two or three pages, mentioned Cotton’s, Red on Anfu Lu, the Kiwi Bar and a bunch of other venues that had already sadly departed. (Okay, nobody was too sad about the Kiwi closing).
So, it comes as little surprise whenever we hear that another old haunt has pulled down the shutters and put padlocks on the doors. Indeed, Shanghaiist’s first meal in this city was at the Patiala Pearl on Changshu Lu: a week later it was gone. (Replaced by the Olinda Café which hasn’t closed, despite serving a sum total of about 5 customers a week).
But we get the feeling that October 2005 has been a particularly active month for the closure of established venues. Over the past fortnight, we’ve heard about the demise of a whole slew of bars and restaurants, many of which seemed to be sailing along quite merrily. First, B:Lo has closed almost before it opened. For the uninitiated — actually, that includes this author, who never quite got around to pulling on his dancing shoes and heading out for a night of progressive trance — B:Lo is (sorry, was) located in the basement of Madam Zung. Nearby Ashanti Dome is also no more, having been told that it can’t serve liquor in a former home of the Orthodox Church (see some thoughts on the matter, here). Ashanti’s downstairs buddy Boca also gets the boot, which Shanghaiist is bummed about — it had great Friday night wine deals and Sunday brunches! Hopefully a reincarnation will appear before too long.
And that’s not all. French bistro Flo, across the road from the JW Marriott Hotel — and conveniently close to Shanghaiist’s office — has put the masking-tape crosses up on the windows. And just upstairs from Flo, one of the city’s better Indian restaurants Ashoka has also left the building, according to a friend who went for lunch a few days ago only to find a cold tandoor oven. Meanwhile, over on Hengshan Lu, L16 has also gone to meet its maker. Hip-hop heads might miss the nightclub, but we didn’t care too much for that odd Thai/Cantonese fusion restaurant downstairs.
Doubtless there are more closures which Shanghaiist is currently unaware of. But we just thought we’d bring these five or six to your attention, in case you were planning dinner in a Russian church followed by hitting the dancefloor in the basement of that old building around the corner on Xiangshan Lu.
Anyone want to put bets on which place will close next? We doubt it will be Bar Rouge. Or Bi Feng Tang.