Rick’s Italian and Siam Thai Restaurant, two of Lambertville’s established dining spots, will be shutting their doors in the next couple of weeks, owners confirmed.
Alex Cormier of Rick’s says he’ll close his eatery at the end of July, and is pondering whether or not to reopen at another location.
“You know, the economy here goes through cycles,” he explained. “Then the town, the chamber reinvent themselves. It’s cyclical. However, the last couple years, the revenues didn’t come back.”
For Cormier, the tipping point was not only a roughly 20 percent drop in revenues in recent years, but also a lease renewal. While negotiating a new five-year lease for the 19 S. Main St. location, which has housed a restaurant since the 1940s, Cormier added it all up, and decided the uptick in rent was too much.
“We’ve been here 15 years, but couldn’t come to an agreement,” he said. “We can go along with the changes, but we can’t go along with the changes in rent. It was not a good formula, especially when you don’t have a liquor license.”
Cormier said that difficulty obtaining liquor licenses, rent increases, and a dearth of public parking are pressuring Lambertville restaurants.
“BYOBs seemed to be hotter 10 years ago, but now there’s not a lot of profit,” he said. “I think the liquor licenses aren’t necessary, but it helps. So does parking.”
But Cormier remains sanguine about Lambertville’s future as a dining mecca.
“It’ not all bad,” he said. “If you’re a small place with 20 seats, I think you’ll do fine here. Or if you’re really big, with parking and a liquor license, you’ll be fine as well. However, when you start to get into 50-70 seats, it’s those medium-sized restaurants that are feeling the crunch.
“Maybe in a sad way, you have a couple restaurants that are closing now, and maybe a couple more soon, but maybe naturally it needs to thin out a little bit,” he added.
Cormier is optimistic that someone will quickly move into the Rick’s location, and emphasized that his restaurant will finish strong for the rest of July.
“I want to see everyone here — people are coming with big parties,” he said. “We had only one staff person leave in the 14 years we were here. It was in their hearts, and we love people, and that’s what Rick’s is about.”
Another Lambertville culinary mainstay, Siam Thai Restaurant, will be closing in a “couple of weeks,” according to owner Suthep Tangtrakul.
“I’m getting old,” Tantraklu explained candidly.
Meanwhile, daughter Rosie Tantraklu and husband Tom Kulnis are taking the helm at the Milford Oyster House. The couple are Milford, N.J., residents, and Kulnis works the kitchen there already.
And, as previously reported, More Than Q BBQ, the Texas-style barbecue purveyor with farmer’s market operations in Easton and in Stockton, N.J., plans to swap the latter location for a new restaurant at 13 Klines Court, replacing the departing Cross Culture Fine Indian Cuisine Restaurant.
In the end, while it may be too early to discern a trend in the the closing of two longstanding eateries, it’s clear that in both Lambertville and New Hope business circles, the restaurant/bar sector is where the action is these days.
In the entire Bucks county area there has not been one restaurant that has met gourmet standards. The one restaurant that was consistently sophisticated, knowledgeable about food and real cooking was the Milford Oyster House. That has now closed and converted to a formula family eatery; ribs , barbeque, grinders , pizza, children’s menu another McDonalds . Shame , Shane Shame
Not being a BYOB is a negative for us and we specifically look for BYOBs. The markup for alchohol is ridiculous. I never ate at Ricks, but had gone to Siam many times. They were the only game in town for Thai food for a while, then several other options were available in the area. The last time we went, we were told that several Thai staples weren’t available on the night we went, so we never went back. Sad to see them go though.
I’ll confess I’ve never eaten at either of them (although I heard good things about Rick’s) so I haven’t been much of a help. The lack of a liquor license was definitely a drawback (husband likes a mixed cocktail with dinner) and Lambertville parking is never easy. It wasn’t easy 23 years ago when we moved here and things have hardly improved. Has the city ever looked at more municipal parking options (like a two-level garage for instance?)
Parking? Yes parking!
When will we get the message?
When will we come up with creative solutions to alleviate this problem?
The City council and boards have too many cheerleaders for the status qou.
Perhaps, the one employee who left was an especially friendly waitress who always mad us feel welcome. Her replacement not so much. Complained about the BYOB policy.
Food was always good.
Why complain about a BYOB? Do you mean you like to overpay for alcohol at a restaurant with a liquor license?
Shame, two of my fav.
I will miss Rick’s! Alex is a fantastic and talented chef. From the chopped salad, bean dip, and seafood medley to the fresh cannoli, Alex and his team hit the mark everytime. I wish everyone the best of luck and hope to find Alex in another kitchen soon!