Family-owned business gets 8th place on the 100 top restaurants in America

A restaurant in Kansas City that serves the best French food has earned its place on the OpenTable’s online booking site’s Top 100 Restaurants in America list for 2021

OpenTable lets customers book reservations at restaurants online and has named Prairie Village’s Cafe Provence among the best in the U.S. for the eighth time in the past ten years.

The family-owned, nearly 21-year-old restaurant, situated at 3936 W. 69th Terrace, has received its first award for best restaurant accolade from OpenTable in 2012. The restaurant was not chosen for recognition in 2020 or 2014.

*OpenTable put a halt to its 100 top restaurants program in 2020 following closures due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it was able to reinstate it in 2021, as the industry was reopening.

The gem in the local area has received 4.9 of 5 stars from 329 reviews.

“We’re not just a family-oriented restaurant. It’s also our profession,” Cafe Provence Executive Chef Philip Quillen declared in an interview with the magazine in 2018. “Every one of us wants to do well in our careers. 

This isn’t just an ‘Oh, it’s my family, and I’ll be working to support the family’ kind or thing.’ We’re all highly determined and motivated to be effective in our work. I’m competitively driven by the determination to be successful. That’s the reason I am moved. I’m a huge foodie, and I am passionate about making people happy.”

Two Missouri restaurants also made the OpenTable’s Top 100 Restaurants in America list. However, none of the other Kansas restaurants made it. The suburbs of St. Louis restaurants are The Crossing, a suburban restaurant in Clayton; and Annie Gunn’s, a farm-to-table restaurant in Clayton and Annie Gunn’s, an American steakhouse and restaurant in Chesterfield -have been acknowledged.

OpenTable came up with its list after studying the more than 10.5 million reviews of restaurants that use its platform. It looked for restaurants that served innovative dishes, offered top-quality hospitality, and created unique dining experiences.

A Huge Number of Restaurants Files for Bankruptcy During the Pandemic

Many restaurants declared bankruptcy in the last year, due to the pandemic that destroyed the sales across a wide swath of the sector according to BankruptcyHQ. However, it could have been more dire, given that early forecasts of huge numbers of filings never came to fruition due to the break with lenders and landlords as well as an industry that had an earlier recovery than anticipated.

The past 12 months have proved to be an extremely busy time for corporate restaurant bankruptcy. According to an Restaurant Business tally, 34 restaurants or franchisees with large scales have sought bankruptcy protection since the pandemic started a year ago. This was more than double the bankruptcy filings of 14 from the prior twelve months.

The number of bankruptcy filings during the last year is probably moderate, and doesn’t include all the local franchisees or chains who sought debt protection. Also, it doesn’t capture the devastation experienced by a large portion of the industry. It was hit by the closure of dine-in restaurants during the course of the year. An estimated 100,000 restaurants have shut down their doors as a result of the pandemic. The increase in bankruptcy filings in the last year is indicative of an overall rise in bankruptcies for corporations during the outbreak.

Corporate bankruptcies reached the 10-year mark in 2020 in the report of S&P Global

A study from September conducted from Harvard Business School found large corporate bankruptcy cases soared by 200% from August to August — even when personal and small-business filings declined, which is likely an indication of the variations in the way bankruptcy courts are utilized.

A bankruptcy filing doesn’t necessarily be the end of the road for the business. In fact, every one of the bankruptcy filings Restaurant Business tracked was a Chapter 11 declaration–Garden Fresh Restaurants which is the proprietor of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, and the 55-unit Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery both decided to liquidate.

Certain franchisees were sold off to other businesses, including NPC International, sold in two pieces to Flynn Restaurant Group and to an organization made up of Wendy’s operators.

The majority of chains are still operating even though they are smaller than when they first started in the past, and many are sold to investors looking to buy the restaurant business while betting on a post-recession recovery.

There were some very large restaurant bankruptcies, such as NPC, Chuck E. Cheese and California Pizza Kitchen. A few iconic brands also sought debt protection like Ruby Tuesday, Sizzler and Friendly’s. Four franchisees with large numbers and at least two restaurant-theaters (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Studio Movie Grill) sought the protection of their debts.

The majority of the time but, the filings weren’t as important as some had hoped after the pandemic began. At the very least, they didn’t satisfy certain of the expectations that some had earlier in the outbreak. Many landlords gave concessions in the beginning to struggling restaurants — or chains just forced to address the issue. Likewise, lenders were unwilling to make loans so long as the business had a solid track record. A lot of larger chains of restaurants were also able to obtain financing or find ways to cut costs in order to earn cash flow from lower sales.

Many companies were sold at bargain basement prices without filing a bankruptcy for bankruptcy, like Naf Naf Grill, Corner Bakery and Boston Market. Some were able to pay off debts and avoid fate, like Checkers or Steak n Shake. The latter is likely to have been just a few days away from filing before the parent Biglari Holdings, the company’s parent Biglari Holdings opted to pay the debt.

All of this doesn’t suggest that the business is in good shape. Certain bills could still become due and if firms aren’t able to meet the needs, more filed and sales at bargain prices may be in the pipeline.

Rozella J. Cook