Most Popular Restaurants That Won’t Reopen After The Pandemic

Most Popular Restaurants That Won’t Reopen After The Pandemic

  • January 12, 2021
  • 0 comments

The long-predicted pandemic-fueled dark days of winter are upon us, and as COVID-19 cases spike around the country and the death toll continues to rise, the economic situation gets worse and worse. Some 140,000 nonfarm payroll jobs were lost in December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its early January Employment Situation Summary.



a chair sitting in front of a wooden table


© Maxvis / iStock / Getty Images Plus


The loss was much higher in the food and drink service sector, where unemployment rose from 13.8% in November to 16.1% last month. That accounts for some 372,000 fewer jobs in the industry in December alone (increased employment in construction and other areas offset food and drink losses). Most of these jobs are being lost largely as a result of economic hardships associated with restaurant reopening restrictions in every state.

While the situation changes almost daily, at least five states plus New York City and the District of Columbia currently ban all indoor dining, and other states and municipalities impose strict capacity limits. These restrictions have devastated restaurants, especially establishments without adequate outdoor seating space or the ability to pivot successfully to a takeout and delivery model.

There’s some good news: The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 27, contains a number of provisions that will benefit the restaurant business. Among other things, qualified businesses that received an earlier PPP loan are eligible for a new one and business meals are now 100% tax-deductible, which should encourage increased diner spending.

But the measure comes too late for some restaurants, which had been barely managing to hang on. Throughout the fall and early winter, establishments both old and new, both plain and fancy, have regretfully announced that they just can’t continue operating.

The casualties include such popular family-oriented chains as Friendly’s on the East Coast and Luby’s across Texas; Michelin-starred restaurants like Dialogue and Trois Mec in Los Angeles; and veteran institutions like 97-year-old Sokolowski’s University Inn in Cleveland and the centenarian Pacific Dining Car in Los Angeles.

Despite financial aid and the optimism engendered by the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, the crisis is far from over for the hospitality trade and more restaurant closures are sure to come. These are the saddest restaurant closings of 2020.

Since last May, 24/7 Tempo has tracked permanent restaurant closures due to COVID-19 around America, with frequent updates. This latest report covers popular establishments in 24 states and the nation’s capital.



a dining table in a restaurant


© Courtesy of Café Poca Cosa


Arizona: Café Poca Cosa

> Location: Tucson

Variously described by local media as “world-renowned” and a “landmark,” this Tucson Mexican institution was born in the mid-1980s at a different location, moving to larger quarters in 1989. It is now closed for good. A statement on the restaurant’s website quotes proprietor Suzana Davila as saying that after “months of conversation and consideration” with her children, she has decided that remaining open is unfeasible. She blames “the impact of a world pandemic that did not discriminate even with the most successful of businesses.”



a sign on the side of a building


© Courtesy of The 101 Coffee Shop


California: The 101 Coffee Shop

> Location: Los Angeles

“Because of the ongoing pandemic, the temporary closure of the 101 Coffee Shop has become permanent,” according to a statement issued in early January by Warner Ebbink, co-owner of this popular Hollywood hangout. The place operated for almost 20 years, during which time stars like Nicolas Cage, Rosanna Arquette, and Jon Hamm became regulars, and the place was featured in “Entourage” and “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” A GoFundMe campaign has been launched in support of the coffee shop’s former employees.

ALSO READ: Saddest Restaurant Closings of 2020



a sunset over a city


© Courtesy of Cliff House


California: The Cliff House

> Location: San Francisco

The original Cliff House, overlooking the Pacific above Ocean Beach, dates from the mid-19th century. Over the decades, it suffered several fires, an explosion, and the city’s catastrophic 1906 earthquake and was frequently rebuilt or remodeled. The National Park Service took ownership in 1977, incorporating it into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and in 1998 leased it to the Hountlas family — who also ran the now-shuttered Louis’ nearby (see below) — as operators. In December, the family announced that it was being forced to close the place, blaming economic pressures brought on by the pandemic as well as the apparent intransigence of the NPS in renewing their lease, which expired in 2018.



a dessert on a plate


© Courtesy of Dialogue Restaurant


California: Dialogue

> Location: Los Angeles

Chef Dave Beran, a veteran of Grant Achatz’s Michelin-three-star Alinea in Chicago, opened this 18-seat tasting-menu establishment in 2017, promptly scoring a rave review from LA Weekly and going on to win a Michelin star of his own in 2019. When COVID-19 restrictions made operating the restaurant untenable — there was little room for social distancing in the tiny dining room — Beran tried rebranding the place as Tidbits, a balcony wine bar serving small plates. That experiment came to an end on Nov. 7, and Beran has now given up the place completely.



a bowl of food on a plate


© garysoup / Flickr


California: San Francisco

> Location: M.Y. China

This upscale regional Chinese restaurant was opened in 2012 by chef Martin Yan — known for his many TV food shows and appearances as a judge on “Iron Chef” and other cooking competition programs — and partners Ronny and Willy Ng of the Bay Area’s Koi Palace restaurants. The place closed in April of last year for what was supposed to be a temporary hiatus, but a spokesperson for the Westfield San Francisco Centre mall, where M.Y. China was located, told Eater in late November that it “will not be returning to the center” even after the pandemic subsides.



a group of people in a room


© Courtesy of Farfallon


California: Farfallon

> Location: San Francisco

Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as a “fantastical seafood restaurant,” Farfallon was noted for its over-the-top decor, which included jellyfish lamps hanging from the ceiling, octopus stools, and a staircase covered with 50,000 iridescent blue marbles. But now the restaurant has called it quits. The 23-year-old establishment has been closed since March, and co-owner Pete Sittnick told the Chronicle that “It was just not going to make sense given all the ramifications of the pandemic for Farallon to try to reopen either as it was — as a fine-dining restaurant with a lot of seats — or to try to think about how to pivot the restaurant.”



a person sitting at a table in a restaurant


© Courtesy of Pacific Dining Car


California: Pacific Dining Car

> Location: Los Angeles

This legendary steakhouse’s 30-year-old Santa Monica offshoot closed for good in June last year. Now it’s the original’s turn. Almost a century old when it shuttered (it was founded in 1921), this downtown landmark was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It was famous for serving customers of every description, dressed in everything from black tie to beach togs. An article two years ago in the Los Angeles Times noted that servers have “waited on strippers, dispensary owners and the San Antonio Spurs.” A statement on the restaurant website says, “We’re taking a beat to assess what next steps are regarding COVID-19 city mandates” — but the Dining Car’s furniture, equipment, and memorabilia are being sold off at auction, and owner Wes Idol says that the operation is switching to online sales only.

ALSO READ: Restaurant Reopening Restrictions in Every State



a kitchen with a sink and a window


© Courtesy of Marguerite C. via Yelp


California: Bäco Mercat

> Location: Los Angeles

In what Time Out described as “a shocking turn,” noted Los Angeles chef-restaurateur Josef Centeno — whose other establishments, Orsa and Winston, have a Michelin star — closed Bäco Mercat early in August. Known for its flatbread sandwiches, fried chicken, and seasonal small plates, the establishment is credited with having kicked off the lively downtown L.A. dining scene when it opened in 2011. “I’m not one for dwelling too much on anything,” wrote Centeno philosophically in a statement on the restaurant’s Instagram page when he announced its closing. “I know that there is always a beginning, a middle and an end.”



a group of people sitting at a table in a room


© Maruko X. via Yelp


California: Dong Il Jang

> Location: Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to the world’s largest Korean community outside Korea itself, and its ever-growing Koreatown neighborhood has long been famous for its many restaurants, serving both traditional and modern Korean fare. Dong Il Jang was one of the oldest of these, launched 42 years ago. In announcing their closing on Instagram, the owners wrote, “Over the four decades we have been through many difficult situations but the Covid-19 pandemic has made it very difficult for us to survive…”



a display in a store


© Kenneth N. via Yelp


California: Patina

> Location: Los Angeles

German-born, French-trained chef Joachim Splichal opened the original Patina in Hollywood in 1989, moving it downtown to the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Center in 2003. Patina eventually spawned an empire of more than 50 other restaurants in five states and Japan, and while Splichal no longer owns the Patina Restaurant Group, the original had remained his flagship. Last July, the company informed employees that its contract with the Concert Center hadn’t been renewed and that their jobs would be eliminated effective Aug. 15.



a chair sitting in front of a wire fence


© Emma McIntyre / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images


California: Trois Mec

> Location: Los Angeles

According to the New York Times, the proprietors of this hole-in-the-wall tasting-menu restaurant — French chef Ludo Lefebvre and his American colleagues Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (of the popular Animal and Son of a Gun) — “are surely among the most influential restaurateurs” in L.A. Unfortunately, neither their prominence nor their Michelin star helped them survive the pandemic. “Covid-19 has changed everything,” Lefebvre wrote on his Instagram page, adding, “I had to accept the reality that it was time to let the idea of reopening Trois Mec go.”



a close up of a plate of food on a table


© Courtesy of Español Italian via Facebook


California: Español Italian

> Location: Sacramento

Español Italian Restaurant — the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the state capital, opened in 1923 — has announced that it has permanently ceased operations. Originally, the dining room at the Hotel Español, or Spanish Hotel, was known for Basque food. When the Luigi family bought it in 1959, they switched to Italian fare, moving the place to its current location in 1965. Looking at the books in early July last year, co-owner Perry Luigi told Valley Community Newspapers, he “kind of made the decision that we can’t stay open another month or everything will be gone.”

ALSO READ: The Oldest Restaurants in America



a group of people sitting at a table in a room


© Courtesy of terry c. via Yelp


California: Louis’

> Location: San Francisco

A San Francisco restaurant icon that opened in 1937 above the remains of the historic 1894-vintage public swimming complex called Sutro Baths, Louis’s is no more. The owners — grandchildren of the original owners — posted a message on the restaurant Facebook page in mid-July reading in part “After much deliberation and a lot of tears we have decided after 83 continuous years of business…to close our business permanently.”



a store front at day


© Courtesy of Zaidy’s Deli / Facebook


Colorado: Zaidy’s Deli

> Location: Denver

Opened in 1992 in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood, Zaidy’s became a go-to place for Reuben sandwiches and other classic deli fare. In announcing that it is now “closing its doors indefinitely,” a statement from the owners on the deli website explained that they had “made the decision to stop compromising the integrity and quality of our renowned Jewish comfort food in order to stay open, no matter how much we wish we could.”



a store front at day


© Courtesy of Leonardo’s By The Slice


Florida: Leonardo’s by the Slice

> Location: Gainesville

An essential pizza stop for decades for students from the nearby University of Florida, the 47-year-old Leonardo’s went out of business on Dec. 16. It would have closed in 2021 anyway — the university bought the property in 2016 as part of the site for a new $55 million music school — but its lease ran through July 2021. COVID-19 made staying open that long impossible. “The pandemic led to a financial burden that we couldn’t withstand,” co-owner Brian Johnson told The Gainesville Sun. The pizzeria was opened the same year as another local restaurant, originally under the same ownership, called Leonardo’s 706. That place closed in August.



a train is parked on the side of a building


© Courtesy of Gator’s Cafe / Facebook


Florida: Gator’s Cafe

> Location: Treasure Island

This 30-year-old waterfront restaurant and sports bar in the John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk complex southwest of Tampa — known for its collection of Florida Gators memorabilia — has been closed since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March. Now it has called it quits for good, announcing on its Facebook page in mid-October that “With a heavy heart, we deliver the news that Gator’s Cafe will not be reopening.”



a store front at day


© Courtesy of Bill W. via Yelp


Georgia: Kouzina Christos

> Location: Atlanta

Opened by Greek immigrants John and Maria Giannes in 1979 and more recently run by their son Christos, this well-liked East Cobb area establishment, which has occupied three different locations over the years, closed on Dec. 5. The younger Giannes wrote on Facebook, “I have decided to curtail talks with landlord over options to remain operational,” adding, “My heart goes out to the independent operators, their staffs and their families, struggling to navigate the unknown and unpredictable course of Covid-19.”

ALSO READ: 21 Restaurant and Supermarket Chains That Require Customers to Wear Masks



a store in a brick building


© Courtesy of Amanda W. via Yelp


Illinois: Tutto Italiano

> Location: Chicago

Known for its casual but authentic Italian cuisine and its unusual train-car dining room, this 27-year old establishment served its last meal at the end of December. Owners Val and Sonny Dervishi wrote on the restaurant Facebook page on Dec. 18 that they were “devastated,” but although they survived “the dot com bubble, 9/11, and the 2008 housing and financial crisis,” the pandemic “has brought us beyond the point of not being able to meet our obligations.”



a traffic light on a city street


© Courtesy of Howard L. via Yelp


Illinois: Fountainhead

> Location: Chicago

Gallery: Saddest Restaurant Closings of 2020 (24/7 Tempo)

“It is with heavy hearts that we have come to the decision to close Fountainhead effective November 14, 2020,” wrote the owners of this North Side establishment on their Facebook page on Oct. 1. According to Eater, Fountainhead “helped usher the age of the gastropub in Chicago” when it opened in 2010. The restaurant’s Facebook statement went on to say, “We would like to hold out a little bit of hope that if, by chance, the situation changes, we will be able to stay in business.” However, they also admitted that “pressures facing our industry at this time make it financially impossible to operate past the roof deck season.



a group of people sitting at a table in a room


© Courtesy of Blackbird via Facebook


Illinois: Blackbird

> Location: Chicago

This well-loved West Loop restaurant — hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “one of Chicago’s greatest restaurants” — was opened 23 years ago by Paul Kahan, who has since become one of the city’s best-known chef-restaurateurs. (His other places include Avec, Publican, and Big Star). Blackbird’s intimate size and layout made social distancing impossible, and the restaurant announced on its website that “we have made the very difficult decision to close our doors.”



a house that has a sign on the side of a building


© brostad / Flickr


Indiana: Three Floyds Brewpub

> Location: Munster

For almost 25 years, Three Floyds Brewing has produced some of America’s most delicious beers, and in 2005 it opened a brewpub adjacent to the brewery. Serving such fare as cheese curds, fish & chips, and smothered calzones, it became, according to the regional news publication NWI.com, “a major draw to Northwest Indiana for years.” The brewpub closed permanently as of Dec. 1. A letter to investors, signed by brewery founder Nick Flyod and his team, said, “As many of you know, this pandemic has not been kind to the restaurant industry, and we are no exception.” Three Floyds will continue to brew its popular beers.



a sign in front of a building


© torybrown / Flickr


Kansas: Brookville Hotel

> Location: Abilene

Mark and Connie Martin opened this popular fried-chicken emporium in 2000, but it traces its origins to a small 1870-vintage hotel and restaurant in nearby Brookville, bought by the Martin family in 1894. Despite the establishment’s long history — and recognition as an “American Classic” by the James Beard Foundation in 2007 — the place became yet another victim of the pandemic in late September. Martin told WION-TV that he usually cleared $50,000 a year in profits, but by the time he shut down last year he had already lost $50,000.

ALSO READ: Oldest Bar in Every State We Can Visit When This Is Over



a person cooking in a kitchen preparing food


© Courtesy of K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen via Facebook


Louisiana: K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen

> Location: New Orleans

The demise of the legendary K-Paul’s last mid-July is one of the most significant of all COVID-related restaurant closures. This highly influential Cajun establishment was opened in 1979 by chef Paul Prudhomme and his wife, Kay, and it soon became a Crescent City bucket-list destination, with lines forming nightly outside. With such vividly flavored dishes as the iconic blackened redfish, K-Paul’s ignited a nationwide craze for Cajun cooking. Kay died of cancer in 1993 and Prudhomme passed away in 2015, but the place stayed open under the chef’s niece, Brenda Prudhomme, and her chef husband, Paul Miller.

After several coronavirus-mandated closings and reopenings earlier this year, though, they issued a statement on July 13 “regretfully announcing permanent closure of K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen.” Miller explained to NOLA.com that “The business has been bleeding through this, and you can only bleed so much before you have to stop it.”



logo


© Courtesy of Reno’s Family Restaurant / Facebook


Maine: Reno’s Family Restaurant

> Location: Caribou

“People from Aroostook County and beyond have been enjoying Reno’s Family Restaurant’s one-of-a-kind pizzas for over half a century,” enthused an article in The County in January. Co-owner Danny Corriveau added that he hoped to continue running the 55-year-old place for the next decade. Then came COVID-19. The Corriveau family posted a notice on Reno’s website, announcing that the restaurant would close on Sept. 30. “Face masks, plexiglass shields, it’s just not what Reno’s was,” Corriveau told WAGM-TV.



a group of glass bottles on a table


© Courtesy of Ace G. via Yelp


Massachusetts: Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale

> Location: Boston

Once hailed as one of the best gastropubs in America by Food & Wine, this popular 10-year-old aftershow stop for patrons of the Downtown Crossing district’s theaters has permanently turned out the lights. “It’s time to say goodbye,” wrote owner Frankie Stavrianopoulos on Facebook. According to a Twitter post by one of his partners in the enterprise, Ace Gershfield, the place counted on revenue not only from theater patrons but also from local office workers, and both groups were now largely absent from the area.



a passenger bus that is stopped at a train station


© Courtesy of Dan’s Diner via Facebook


Michigan: Dan’s Diner

> Location: Grand Rapids

Built in 1954 in New Jersey — the so-called Diner Capital of the World — and originally called Pal’s Diner, this old-style eatery was moved to Grand Rapids in the early 1990s, becoming Dan’s Diner when chef Dan Chudik bought it in 2018. The diner was able to stay open in the pandemic’s early days, alternating between dine-in and takeout as Michigan restrictions changed, and receiving PPP money to help pay employees. However, when the state issued a new ban on indoor dining on Nov. 18 for a minimum of three weeks, Chudik threw in the towel. “Whether or not shutting down restaurants is right or not, who knows?” he told Michigan Live. “But if we can lower the numbers and keep people from dying, then you got to do what you got to do.”



a group of people sitting at a table in a restaurant


© Courtesy of Bay L. via Yelp


Minnesota: Fuji Ya

> Location: Minneapolis

When Reiko Weston opened Fuji Ya in 1959, it was apparently the first-ever Japanese restaurant in Minnesota. It expanded and spawned offshoots. Weston died in 1988, and two years later the place closed down — until her daughter brought it back to life in 1997. The restaurant shuttered temporarily in early May, but by the end of that month, its website carried the message: “Thank you for your support! Unfortunately we are closing our doors.”

ALSO READ: Things You Should Probably Never Order at a Restaurant



a dining room table


© Courtesy of Sam A. via Yelp


Missouri: Cusanelli’s

> Location: St. Louis

Occupying a building that traces its history back two centuries, this institution in the city’s Lemay neighborhood — featuring what it billed as “The Original St. Louis Style Pizza” — opened in 1954. It became a family favorite, and comments on the restaurant’s Facebook page sentimentally recall first dates, birthdays, anniversaries, and other momentous occasions celebrated there. It was also on Facebook that the owners announced that Aug. 30 would be the restaurant’s last night of service, “Due to covid and unforeseen circumstances …”



a house with bushes in front of a building


© Courtesy of Nick N. via Yelp


Nevada: Pamplemousse

> Location: Las Vegas

George LaForge emigrated from Paris to Las Vegas in 1962, and after working at the Desert Inn for 11 years he opened a crêperie called The Morning After. Three years later, he launched this more serious place, serving things like escargots, foie gras, and rack of lamb. Eater Las Vegas described it as one of the city’s oldest restaurants (it long predated the appearance of celebrity chef restaurants in the early 1990s) and “a hidden gem for both locals and celebrities alike.” LaForge died in 2019, and late last year, his widow announced that she was closing the place, citing a substantial loss of business after the Las Vegas convention business evaporated due to the pandemic.



a table that has a sign on a wall


© Courtesy of Billy T via Yelp


New York: Sammy’s Roumanian

> Location: New York City

This 47-year-old Romanian Jewish restaurant, an iconic establishment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, posted a message on its Instagram page on Jan. 3 reading in part: “It is with great sadness that we announce that the rumors are true and we have had to shut the doors.” Owner David Zimmerman told Gothamist that he plans to reopen the place in another location at some undetermined point in the future, adding in a text message that “We can’t wait and hope to see everyone enjoying latkes, vodka, chopped liver and steaks once again.”



a plate of pasta with sauce and cheese


© Courtesy of OTTO Enoteca e Pizzeria (New York) via Facebook


New York: Otto

> Location: New York City

In 2003, at the height of his pre-scandal fame as a celebrity chef-restaurateur, Mario Batali opened this Greenwich Village pizzeria-cum-wine bar in partnership with his associate Joe Bastianich. Business reportedly declined, here as at other Batali-Bastianich enterprises, after Batali was accused of sexual harassment and other offenses in 2017. When the pandemic hit earlier this year, Otto closed temporarily, then reopened with a limited takeout menu. While Bastianich has issued no official statement on the closure, a representative of the building’s owners told Grub Street in early November that the space was available to rent.



a close up of a sign


© edenpictures / Flickr


New York: Baohaus

> Location: New York City

This modest Taiwanese restaurant, known for its fried chicken and pork buns, launched the career of chef Eddie Huang — who went on to write a best-selling memoir, “Fresh Off the Boat,” which in turn became an ABC-TV sitcom running for six seasons. That didn’t ultimately help the restaurant. Posting on Instagram in early October, Huang said, “We held out as long as we could, but have decided to close.” While Huang didn’t specifically mention COVID-19, the owner of a neighboring convenience store painted a dark picture of the local business climate to Spectrum News NY1. “There is no future,” he said. Speaking of potential customers, he added, “I don’t think they are going to come back until January, maybe.” Huang is now directing a movie, “Boogie,” about a Chinese-American basketball player in New York City.

ALSO READ: The Oldest Restaurants in America



a person sitting at a table with a purple umbrella


© Courtesy of Mission Manhattan via Yelp


New York: Mission Chinese

> Location: New York City

When San Francisco’s Mission Chinese expanded to Manhattan in 2012, according to Eater critic Robert Sietsema, it hit the city “like a ton of bricks, generating long lines eager for salt cod fried rice, chicken hearts in Sichuan chile oil, and Mongolian long beans.” The challenges posed by the pandemic, however, were its undoing. A message from Bowlien on the restaurant’s Instagram page in mid-September said that he was closing the restaurant, with plans “to create a business model that forges a new path for survival on our terms.” That’s probably just as well because a story on Grub Street in late October detailed “nightmare” working conditions in the restaurant’s kitchen, including racist insults and physical abuse. (A second location, in Brooklyn, remains open.)



a display in a store window


© Courtesy of Augustine NYC via Facebook


New York: Augustine

> Location: New York City

Blaming the inflexibility of his landlord, celebrated restaurateur Keith McNally announced on Instagram in late July that his French brasserie in downtown Manhattan’s Beekman Hotel, opened in 2016, is now out of business. McNally, who himself was hospitalized for COVID-19 last April but is now fully recovered, had earlier closed his 31-year-old SoHo bistro Lucky Strike due to the pandemic. On Instagram, McNally wrote that he looked forward to seeing his customers at one of his other New York City establishments — which include Balthazar, Pastis, and Minetta Tavern — “Or Debtor’s Prison – whichever comes first.



a sign above a store


© Courtesy of Rick D. via Yelp


North Carolina: Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe

> Location: Chapel Hill

Opened in 1972, this unpretentious diner has served breakfast and lunch — waffles, of course, as well as pancakes, omelettes, burgers, sandwiches, and the like — to generations of University of North Carolina students and staff as well as the Chapel Hill community at large. A message posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page on Dec. 1 read in part, “After much consideration, we have decided to close Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe,” adding that “from a public health perspective and due to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, it is the right choice for us.”



a large brick building


© Courtesy of Elmo’s Diner Carr Mill, Carrboro, NC / Facebook


North Carolina: Elmo’s Diner

> Location: Carrboro

In a lengthy Facebook message posted Sept. 18, Elmo’s — famous for almost 30 years for its all-day breakfasts — announced that it was permanently closed. “We cannot wrap our heads around how we can safely serve people and stay distant from our co-workers and our customers,” read the statement in part. “We cannot wrap our heads around how limited capacity can pay the bills or how take-out can be enough to outweigh the risks for both us and our customers.” The message adds, “while scrutinizing the whole of our situation, our moral and financial obligations we realized we have been waiting in denial for a miracle.”



a plate topped with meat and vegetables


© edsel_ / Flickr


Ohio: Lola Bistro

> Location: Cleveland

Cleveland’s best-known chef, Michael Symon, announced on Nov. 20 that he was shutting down his flagship downtown bistro permanently. The 23-year-old Lola closed at the start of the pandemic, then reopened for limited service on June 25. Several Lola employees tested positive for COVID-19 the week of Nov. 16, but Symon’s business partner, Doug Petkovic, told Cleveland.com that the closure wasn’t related to those cases. “We closed because the pandemic made the situation untenable at the level of business we were doing,” he said.

ALSO READ: From Dec. 2019 to Dec. 2020: A Timeline of Coronavirus Spread



a sign in front of a building


© edsel_ / Flickr


Ohio: Sokolowski’s University Inn

> Location: Cleveland

“They don’t get much more Cleveland than Sokolowski’s,” according to Cleveland Scene. Founded in 1923, the restaurant served Polish specialties to celebrities (including more than one U.S. president) and ordinary locals alike. Facing health issues, third-generation proprietors Bernie and Mike Sokolowski, who owned the place with their sister Mary Lou, had planned to close the place for good after their 100th anniversary two years hence. “Covid just sped up our decision unfortunately,” Mike told a reporter for Cleveland’s WOIO-TV.



a group of people sitting at a table in a restaurant


© eyeliam / Flickr


Oregon: Beast

> Location: Portland

“One of the early stars in Portland’s culinary renaissance,” as Eater put it, 13-year-old Beast is history. Owner Naomi Pomeroy explained to The Oregonian’s Oregon Live website that her tiny restaurant — which occupied only about 800 square feet, including kitchen, prep area, and bathroom — could serve only about two dozen customers at two communal tables, even in pre-COVID times. Now, she said, she’d have room for only eight customers to observe social distancing protocols. Pomeroy told Eater that she might reopen Beast in a larger space once the pandemic has passed, and in the meantime plans to install a neighborhood market, called Ripe Collective, in its former premises.



a sign on a pole


© eyeliam / Flickr


Oregon: Pok Pok restaurants

> Location: Portland

James Beard Award-winning chef-restaurateur Andy Ricker, whose Pok Pok restaurant group specializes in northern Thai and Vietnamese cooking, announced on Instagram in mid-June that he was closing four of his six Portland locations. It was originally reported that the shuttered restaurants would include Pok Pok NW, Whiskey Soda Lounge, and two outposts of Pok Pok Wing. The original Pok Pok would reopen, it was said, and a third Pok Pok Wing might also come back to life. Currently, however, the Pok Pok website states that “All Pok Pok restaurant locations are closed for on site service,” adding that meal kits and some prepared food is available for pickup at the company’s commissary kitchen.



a large clock tower towering over a city


© Courtesy of Blossom


South Carolina: Blossom

> Location: Charleston

When this restaurant featuring seafood and Lowcountry fare opened in 1993, The Post and Courier dubbed it “the hottest spot in town.” In reporting the establishment’s demise in early December, the publication noted that it “helped build the first wave of Charleston’s current culinary renaissance.” Unfortunately, COVID-19 proved too much for the place, which posted a message on its Instagram page on Dec. 7 saying: “Sadly, last night was our final dinner service after 27 years.”



a group of people sitting at a picnic table


© Courtesy of Austin Pizza Garden


Texas: Oak Hill Pizza Garden

> Location: Austin

On Jan. 8, this crowd-pleasing pizzeria and sandwich shop — which described itself as “Austin’s Carb Capital, since 1994” — posted a message on its Facebook page announcing that it would close, “with great sadness,” effective Jan. 17. The landmark restaurant opened 27 years ago in a distinctive stone building dating back to 1898. A last-minute rush of business prompted the restaurant to add that it was doing its best “to keep up with the demand the closure has created but we’re a much smaller crew than before covid.”

ALSO READ: Restaurant Reopening Restrictions in Every State



a dining room table


© Courtesy of Mother’s Café and Garden


Texas: Mother’s Café & Garden

> Location: Austin

Oct. 24 was the final day for Mother’s Café, a 40-year-old vegetarian restaurant in the Texas capital’s Hyde Park neighborhood. In September, John Silverberg, owner of the iconic establishment, told CBS Austin that since the pandemic hit, “We’ve seen a 75% drop.” Mother’s had been serving only a limited takeout menu, and by mid-October, Silverberg realized that the business wasn’t sustainable and made the decision to shut down permanently.



a sign in front of a brick building


© socialwoodlands / Flickr


Texas: Luby’s

> Location: Various

This iconic 73-year-old Texas cafeteria chain, with some 60 locations currently open across the Lone Star State, announced on Sept. 8 that it was liquidating its assets. Generations of Texans have flocked to Luby’s for its chicken-fried steak and other comfort food (it was a particular family favorite for Sunday lunch). The chain responded to the emerging pandemic in March by temporarily closing restaurants and furloughing more than half its corporate employees. In June, Luby’s revealed that it was putting its restaurants up for sale, at least partially, due to the effects of COVID-19. The decision to shut the operation down was made to “maximize value for our stockholders, while also preserving the flexibility to pursue a sale of the company should a compelling offer that delivers superior value be made,” Luby’s CEO and president Christopher J. Pappas said in a statement. The company also owns the nationwide Fuddruckers burger chain, which is also being liquidated.



a truck is parked in front of a store


© Courtesy of Cafe Texan via Facebook


Texas: Cafe Texan

> Location: Huntsville

This iconic 83-year-old establishment north of Houston, said to have been the oldest café in Texas still in its original location, is gone for good. Owner John Strickland told The Huntsville Item that he had remained closed for months out of concern for the health of his customers, many of whom were seniors, and his staff. However, he said, “I had not intended to close it permanently.” When he realized that that would be necessary, he sold the building, which will apparently be turned into a museum.



a sign in front of a building


© Courtesy of Ed. W via Yelp


Virginia: Country Cookin

> Location:statewide

“Sold Out: All Locations Are Now Closed,” reads a message on the home page for this 13-unit Virginia cafeteria chain. In noting its demise, the News Virginian described the typical Country Cookin unit as “A community gathering place for lovers of low-cost buffet dining and where kids ate for free.” Oct. 17 was the chain’s last day in business. “The devastation to our communities, industry, employees and company resulting from the pandemic and mandated closures is heart-breaking,” wrote company president Tom Dodson on the chain’s social media platforms.



a store front at day


© Courtesy of Jalisco Mexican Restaurant


Washington: Jalisco Mexican Restaurant

> Location: Seattle

Jalisco was a modest storefront restaurant known for its colorful decor, its wide-ranging menu, and the warmth and hospitality of the owners. Some sources report that it was 28 years old, but the restaurant’s website reads “Est. 1977.” Whatever its age, it closed without fanfare in December. Allecia Vermillion, editor-in-chief of Seattle Met, while admitting that she’d never been to the place, told Eater Seattle that “The Jaliscos of the world give our life texture and connection — and those are the things we lose when a restaurant closes.”

ALSO READ: Saddest Restaurant Closings of 2020



a store front of a house


© Courtesy of Tilth / Facebook


Washington: Tilth

> Location: Seattle

Oct. 30 marked the end for this James Beard Award-winning restaurant, which the Seattle Times said “represented a movement in Seattle dining: talented, independent chefs expressing creativity and supporting local farmers.” Since COVID-19 hit, chef-owner Maria Hines told the publication, her business had dropped 70%. She added, though, that saving lives was more important than the shuttering of her establishment — an act she described as “downright trivial compared to a lot of the suffering people are going through.”



a group of people sitting at a table in front of a store


© Courtesy of Maggie’s Restaurant


Wisconsin: Maggie’s

> Location: Bayfield

The description on the website of this casual eatery on the south shore of Lake Superior says: “Owner Mary H. Rice’s ode to flamingos, food and fun delivers the best of Bayfield’s fruits, vegetables and fresh fish to your table.” On Oct. 20, Rice added a note to Maggie’s homepage that reads, “Moving through these uncertain times and with the daily changing industry landscape, on December 31st, 2020, the doors to Maggie’s will be closing permanently and I will be retiring from the restaurant world



a chair sitting in front of a window


© Courtesy of Poca Madre via Facebook


Washington D.C.: Poca Madre

> Location: Washington D.C.,

An innovative Mexican establishment launched in 2018 by chef Victor Albisu, owner of the Taco Bamba taquería chain in northern Virginia, Poca Madre reached the No. 6 slot on Washingtonian’s list of the area’s 100 best restaurants, and Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema named it one of his top ten favorites in 2019. Poca Madre — along with an adjacent Taco Bamba location — closed with the implementation of a dine-in ban in mid-March, theoretically for a limited period. According to Washingtonian, with tourism in the restaurant’s neighborhood down 53% and offices operating at only 5% capacity, Albisu has made the decision not to reopen either place.

Continue Reading

Source Article