The news for restaurants across America was bad enough when Yelp released an economic impact report in late June revealing that, as of June 15, more than 57,000 restaurants listed on the site had closed permanently since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Things have only gotten worse since then. Between mid-June and July 10, permanent restaurant closures had risen to 72,842, according to new figures just published in the Yelp Economic Average report for the second quarter of 2020.
“Restaurants now reflect the highest total number of business closures, exceeding retail rates,” according to Restaurant Dive, an industry newsletter. It adds “Unlike retail, restaurant closures have fluctuated from March through July based on the rapidly evolving and disparate mandates that have been put into place at local levels.” There’s no question that restaurants are high on the list of small businesses that need the most help during the COVID-19 crisis.
In the early days of the pandemic, food service business analysts predicted that major chains might have a better chance of surviving shutdowns and capacity restrictions than independents.
That hasn’t necessarily proved to be the case. Le Pain Quotidien has shut down 63 of its 98 U.S. restaurants. The 97-unit Sweet Tomatoes/Souplantation buffet chain has gone permanently dark. TGI Friday’s may close as many as 20% of its 386 locations.
The crisis, however, has also dramatically affected restaurants of other kinds — local staples that had been in business for generations, splashy new places with celebrity clienteles, restaurants run by famous chefs. Indeed, the coronavirus has already claimed numerous restaurants opened by such culinary celebrities as Wolfgang Puck, José Andrés, David Chang, Daniel Boulud, Charlie Palmer, and the late Paul Prudhomme.
As 24/7 Tempo continues to track the demise of restaurants around the country, we have assembled a special list of particularly notable (and unfortunate) closures in some 15 states and the nation’s capital. These are iconic eating places with dedicated followings, illustrious histories, and often celebrated names attached. (For a longer list, covering a wider range of places, see the most recent edition of our 50 Popular Restaurants That Won’t Reopen After the Pandemic.)
As the variety and quality of these now-gone establishments suggests, when it comes to restaurants, COVID-19 is an equal opportunity destroyer.