How to close a restaurant

Each year, hundreds of city restaurants close forever, victims of high rents, economic cycles and fickle diners.

So it should not have come as a surprise when restaurateur Danny Meyer announced in late September that he was pulling the plug on three-star Indian eatery Tabla, primarily because its exotic cuisine had failed to consistently draw sufficient customers. The 280-seat restaurant is the largest in an empire that includes Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park—in the same building as Tabla—and Union Square Café.

Yet this is no ordinary restaurant failure. Tabla is not only Mr. Meyer’s first flameout in his 25 years in the business but was kept open long after its financial problems had become clear.

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