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The Biggest Restaurant World Stories of 2011

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Later this afternoon, we'll point out some of the most popular stories of 2011, the things people couldn't keep from clicking on. But first, a look at the stories that shaped this year, from the monster restaurant sales to the surprising chef shuffles, worldwide expansions, and major shutterings. Here, in our view, are the biggest stories of 2011:

Mario Batali compares bankers to Hitler; bankers flip out.

Daniel Humm and Will Guidara buy Eleven Madison Park from owner Danny Meyer and announce plans for a restaurant withing the upcoming NoMad hotel.

Danny Meyer opens Shake Shacks in Brooklyn, Battery Park City, Connecticut, Nationals Park, Washington D.C., and Kuwait and announces plans for Grand Central, Long Island, Philadelphia, and Coral Gables.

Sam Sifton quits his job as Times food critic after two years on the job. Dining section editor Pete Wells is named as his replacement.

M. Wells finally opens for dinner in 2011 after getting a liquor license, earns two stars from the New York Times, becomes the rag tag darling of the food media, then shutters becuase they only signed a one year lease.

Facing a labor lawsuit and reeling from his split with Michael White, Chris Cannon closes Alto and Convivio.

IHOP opens their first (of many?) downtown location, posts a bouncer outside to control late night crowds.

Brooklyn Fare earns yet another Michelin star, gets liquor license, and raises prices.

Michelin starred chef and neurosurgeon Miguel Romera opens the most pretentious and expensive restaurant of the year in the basement of the Dream Hotel. He lowers prices after pushback from critics and the public.

Grimaldi’s is forced to move next door, as its original owner returns to open a rival pizzeria.

Elaine’s closes half a year after the death of its owner and matriarch.

Torrisi Italian Specialties opens spinoff restaurant, announces takeover of the Rocco space, and launches epic tasting menu.

Chef John Fraser opens a restaurant installation called What Happens When, where the theme, menus, decor, everything change every month. Sadly, the SLA closes it down just halfway through its nine month run.

Pastry chefs Johnny Iuzzini and Michael Laiskonis leave their four star restaurants.

Motorino in Williamsburg shutters because the building is about to collapse. The building is taken down floor by floor in the following month.

Chef Shuffles: Sam Talbot, Tien Ho, Chris Jaeckle, Craig Hopson, Ryan Skeen, Damon Wise, Jason Hall.

And, as a reward for making it all the way through this recap, here's that incredible video from The Place again.

· All Year in Eater Coverage [~ENY~]

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