A new year is upon us, but Berks County Eats is taking one more look back at 2017, paying tribute to 17 restaurants that Berks County lost in 2017.
Note: This is not a complete list. If you have other restaurants that closed that you are sorry (or glad) to see go, let us know in the comments below.
Joey Peeps was located inside the T&C Gas Market at the corner of Route 183 and West Leesport Road. With the demolition of the market to make way for a Wawa, Joey Peeps was forced to close.
Basil by Chef Gianluca
Basil by Chef Gianluca closed in early 2017. We visited in 2015 and were very impressed. The space didn’t stay empty for long, though as Cosa Pizzeria and Restaurant opened in the space just a few months later.
Rocco’s Wood-Fired Pizza
Of all the restaurants that closed in 2017, this one was the most disappointing. We tried Rocco’s shortly after it opened in 2016 and fell in love with the pizza (the bee sting, featuring raw honey and crushed red pepper was inventive and delicious).
While Rocco’s was disappointing, the Virginville Hotel was just sad. A Reading Eagle interview with the owners cited a slowdown in business, but more than anything, a lack of available help in the northern Berks community as the reason for the closing. On our 2015 visit, we had enjoyed their mix of traditional and creative dishes.
East Wok was located in Berkshire Square, the Wyomissing shopping center that is home to Wal-Mart, Redner’s, LA Fitness and more. We never ate at East Wok, but we did visit Nirvana Indian Bistro, the restaurant that opened in its place in May.
Gourmand Cafe at Body Zone
Gourmand closed its Body Zone location in early 2017, but the news isn’t all bad. You can still get all of your favorites from the mobile food truck, at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market or at the Wyomissing cafe. The latter is now open for dinner three nights a week.
Ronie’s Home of the Steak
Ronie’s was a Reading institution that I unfortunately never was able to visit. Ronie’s was one of those “Old Reading” favorites, neighborhood restaurants that are slowly fading away.
Back Forty Bar & Gril
Back Forty Bar & Grill was a standout restaurant in western Berks County, offering inspired and unique dishes that weren’t seen on other area menus. We visited in early 2016, and while the service was a little questionable (my chicken and pasta came out separately several minutes apart), the food was on-point.
Muddy’s Smokehouse BBQ
This is another former favorite of mine that I was sad to see go in 2017. Health was cited as a the reason for closing the Oley restaurant this fall, but truth be told, Muddy’s was just not the same after closing the original trailer along Route 12.
Speedy Sandwich Shop
This one was a bit of a surprise. Speedy didn’t really have much of an online presence, so there was never an outside indication that it was going to close, but that’s what the sign on the door says.
The Cafe at Maple Springs
We visited the Cafe at Maple Springs in 2015. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. The biggest disappointment wasn’t the food, itself, but the fact that the cafe advertised a weekend dinner menu, but in reality, there was none. The stripmall storefront is now the second location for Dino’s Wings and Things, the second time Dino’s has opened in the same place.
The Blandon restaurant got new owners and a new name – Hometown Pizza – in 2017. Rocky’s had mixed reviews during its run. As for Hometown, we visited in October and we liked it well enough, but it’s definitely a spot for take-out, not a place for a sit-down meal.
Fields Kitchen by ViVA
Fields Kitchen by ViVA, formerly known as ViVA Good Life Bar and Lounge, closed as a result of the Reading Country Club debacle (ViVA also ended its catering operation at Green Valley Country Club for the same reason). At the same time, the rebranding of the restaurant was a sign that things were not going well as ViVA had gone downhill since our visit in 2014 – a look through Yelp Reviews tells that story very plainly. But if you want to know what it was like at its best, read our review.
ViVA Castle Pub
This is one restaurant I am not sorry to see go. We spent our Valentine’s Day evening at the Pub. It was a long night with mediocre food that took way too long. ViVA was managing the restaurant until November when a legal dispute arose between the company and Exeter Township, who owns the Reading Country Club.
I never had a chance to eat at the restaurant in Amity Township before it closed, but I wish I had. The reviews were great, and it seemed like a great place. We visited the restaurant that replaced it, Kathryn’s Grille, in November. It has potential, but it’s not there yet.
Panevino was one of the first restaurants that I visited as part of the blog so it holds a special place to me. I even returned for a second review in 2016. The restaurant continues – sort of – as a special event venue. It also still hosts dinners on select dates throughout the year, but it’s no longer open for daily dinner services.
Downtown Reading saw a change in 2017 as Reggie’s Place, the cafe in the M&T Bank Building, closed in June. But the restaurant was quickly replaced by Rooster’s Deli and Bakery, which opened in August.