As Angells Bar and Grill prepares to say goodbye after 32 years in Downtown Boise, theres a powerful urge to become cynical about the dining scene.
We stare into our bowls of soup and see an abyss. Soon there will be nothing left but Chick-fil-A.
Its human nature to overreact.
There is still plenty of hope for local restaurants and thats despite Boises La Vie en Rose closing this week and Garden Citys Stagecoach Inn filing for bankruptcy (but remaining in business).
Interesting eateries keep opening: Pasta haven Alavita debuted Jan. 21 at 807 W. Idaho St. in Boise. Some even defy the odds and flourish: Bleubird, 224 N. 10th St., opened last September and created a fast lunch buzz with gourmet sandwiches and cheeses.
We assume that our favorite dining destinations will last forever, even if we cant remember actually visiting some of them since prom night. When these places unexpectedly bid farewell or just vanish, we act dumbfounded.
Dozens of comments piled up after I posted word of Angells demise on my blog. Within hours, someone had shared a bogus rumor claiming that Applebees might take over the spot.
In 2013, thats not so far-fetched.
Boise has changed since Angells opened in 1981. These days, restaurant news usually seems to involve chains or franchises: a new Chipotle coming to Meridian, or a Noodles & Company replacing a Japanese steakhouse in Boise.
Still, those pesky local restaurants keep appearing. Brimming with nervous enthusiasm, a rare breed continues to believe that a Treasure Valley eatery has the potential to be a long-term business venture.
Its hard to say exactly whats in our minds, jokes Dave Kelly, who opened Bleubird with his wife, Sarah Kornfield. Were kind of crazy, I guess.
Kelly and Kornfield moved to Boise from Vail, Colo., last July and got Bleubird off the ground by focusing on quality ingredients and catering. Owning a restaurant is a first for both of them.
They each put in about 70 hours a week at Bleubird, which means they dont get out a bunch. But they do have a favorite Saturday lunch spot. Or did. It was the Downtown location of Baguette Deli.
We were so disappointed to hear that place closed, Kelly says.
Its tough, man, he adds. Youve got to watch your dollars and cents every single step.
Cameron Lumsden opened Fork two years ago in the 805 Idaho Building with his wife, Amanda.
Their newest creation, Alavita an Italian joint is located right around the corner.
Call us optimists, Lumsden says, but we signed a 10-year lease at both locations.
Alavita is more intimate than Fork, with a funky, progressive dining environment, a U-shaped bar and a revealing, open kitchen.
Lumsden pauses to turn the handle on a meat slicer, proudly pointing out that its not electric. He talks about using local eggs. Buying flour grown and milled in the Northwest.
What that allows us to do is to continue to keep it fresh, he says. We feel good about knowing where our products come from.
Lumsden believes that many Boiseans feel the same way about supporting local growers, producers and restaurants.
I think thats one of the reasons Fork has been welcomed so warmly, he says.
Hell be counting on a similar reception for Alavita.
We hope that Boise appreciates this concept, says Lumsden, who ate six or seven meals a day while doing research in Italy last year.
But were not going into this beating our chest. Its very risky.
Opening Bleubird was a scary thing, agrees Kelly, who has worked in restaurants for 25 years.
It also has been transformational.
You get such a sense of pride when its your own place, Kelly says. Its amazing how much pride you have and what a good product you want to put out when its your own, and your face is on it.
That statement is one of the best arguments for dining at local restaurants. Its also proof that, no matter how many locals go under and chains pop up, there will always be another brave soul concocting plans for the next Angells. Or Fork. Or Bleubird.
Theres other crazy fools out there. I know it! Kelly says, laughing. Ive never wanted to put myself behind a desk. Ive always felt comfortable behind the bar or in the restaurant. This is all Ive ever wanted to do.
Michael Deeds column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. He co-hosts The Other Studio at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.