both fine food and fun food are abundant in my fair cities, which would seem to indicate a healthy restaurant scene at the community or metro level of analysis. at the individual level, however, the restaurants are like dandelions. hundreds shoot up every spring and bloom in full flower for a week or two, before we either mow them down or the winds quickly scatter their talent to somebody else's yard.
i learned today that st. paul has lost the zander cafe, minneapolis has lost the my-t-fine bakery and betty jean's chicken-n-waffles and the city pages has lost longtime food writer dara moskowitz. i mean, even marcus samuelsson's aquavit, which seemed perfectly suited to the area, failed to take root in minneapolis.
i would hypothesize that both the birth rate and the survival rate of good restaurants is unusually low in the twin cities metro, but i really have no basis for comparison. my sense is that failure rates are high throughout the industry, but i'm surprised that quality isn't a better predictor of longevity.
so, there are always good restaurants here, but they rarely seem to last. is there a simple sociological story that might explain this pattern as (a) characteristic of industry as a whole; (b) a product of unusual features of the twin cities market; or, (c) the misperceptions of casual observers like me?