Over the weekend it was reported that Cafe des Artistes, the serenely romantic restaurant near Lincoln Center, has closed after more than 90 years in business. The wife of owner George Lang blames the closure on the restaurant's unionized workers, who recently sued the restaurant for unpaid benefits, including medical insurance. Local 100 union president Bill Granfield tells the Times, "We think Mr. Lang is a great figure in the restaurant industry, a great person, and it’s a great restaurant. But it feels like time passed it by a while ago."

Time's passing quickly for upscale restaurants all over town; last week the visually stunning Greenwich Village restaurant Elettaria closed after a turbulent year and a half in business; Eater hears that "issues with lease negotiations" were to blame, but reviews were always mixed and prices stubbornly high. And La Goulue, a fancy Upper East Side brasserie, closed after 36 years on Wednesday.

Some 512 NYC restaurants have closed this past year, according to a recently released restaurant census. All of this is just fine by The Feedbag's Josh Ozersky, who sees the death trend as a much-needed thinning of the herd. He tells the Daily News, "The great fine-dining fuddy-duddy restaurants were already on the wane before the recession hit. Overwrought and overstaffed, they were lingering in their own twilight. Now the meteor has hit, and these places have all gone under. The old white tablecloth dinosaurs have been supplanted by friskier mammals." Like that frisky TGI Friday's, opening soon in Union Square!