After just under a year in business, Urchin Bistrot is closing on July 31, having never quite drawn the crowds it hoped to on the busy restaurant corridor of Valencia. As Inside Scoop reports, the casual (if slightly expensive) California-French spot from the husband-and-wife team of Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani "never quite got a handle on the neighborhood," according to Doumani.
Urchin opened last summer as part of a second wave of new Mission restaurants following a boom in the previous couple years which had also brought with it Urchin's short-lived predecessor, Wo Hing General Store. It's been debated a number of times in the last few years, as the restaurant density specifically along Valencia has grown: at what point does the area have too many restaurants? The closings of Abbot's Cellar and now Urchin indicate that not everything can fly, even if the team behind it is as experienced as Sone and Doumani, who also own Ame downtown and the Michelin starred Terra and Bar Terra in St. Helena.
In his October review, Michael Bauer said the restaurant hadn't "found its core," and that it was relying "on a fabricated sense of coolness." Those lackluster two stars probably didn't do much to boost business.
There may be room for another restaurant in this space at 584 Valencia and hopefully it won't prove cursed after being the long-ago original home of Slanted Door, though it probably needs a pretty thoughtful redesign. But one thing seems certain after seeing places like Wo Hing, Urchin, Abbot's Cellar, and Amber Dhara all close in the last year or two: San Franciscans will not flock to your pricey eatery without a surfeit of buzz and uniqueness. We have no problem spending $80 on dinner, but with so many places competing for our dining attention, we need to be impressed on a lot of levels if we're going to keep spending that $80 in the same place.