After months of questions and rumors about the fate of troubled Avance, Mike Klein reported last night that the restaurant will shut its doors after dinner this Saturday, October 11 — just ten months after its December 13 debut last year.
In a statement, chef Justin Bogle cited finances, saying, "We regret that we had to make this decision, but the numbers weren’t working out. I truly put my heart and soul into this place and wish the outcome was different." (Bogle told Michael Klein that he has "zero clue" what he'll do next.)
Avance's opening was marked by plenty of hype and optimism, as the restaurant sought to redefine fine dining for Philly at the high end in the legendary Le Bec Fin space. But the restaurant never seemed to fully connect with diners, and reviews were highly mixed. Some early reviews were positive (PW's Brian Freedman couldn't restrain himself from calling it "brilliant dining magic;" CP's Adam Erace was less effusive but loved the bar) and the restaurant got the stamp of approval from GQ's Alan Richman, who named it one of his 25 Best New Restaurants in America.
But Trey Popp fairly tore into the place in his take for Philly Mag, and it didn't fare much better with Craig LaBan, who wrote that after his final disappointing meal, he "couldn't leave fast enough."
There were some early signs of trouble, including the firing of their pastry chef (an expense well out of reach for many restaurants) and rumored firing of their original GM. But the real turmoil came more recently, as the restaurant faced the sale of the building and a subsequent eviction attempt.
Though they were able to put off their new landlords' attempt to put them out, court proceedings revealed that the restaurant's monthly rent was $28,000. While keeping mostly silent about the details, Avance shut down for a summer break, prompting many to wonder if they would reopen. And they did come back, just one month ago, with some optimistic news about fixing up the interior design a bit, updating menus, and even hiring a new GM.
Clearly, it wasn't enough.