Special Report

50 Most Popular Restaurants That Won’t Reopen After The Pandemic

Source: 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 22 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.”

Source: Courtesy of Janet Z. via Yelp

Illinois: Fat Rice
> Location: Chicago

This well-known restaurant featuring the Portuguese-Chinese fusion cooking of Macau (and given a Bib Gourmand rating from the Guide Michelin, signifying “good quality, good value cooking”) stopped restaurant service in April. Instead, it was converted, supposedly permanently, into the Super Fat Rice Mart, selling specialty groceries and meal kits.

In June, however, that operation shut down indefinitely — not due to COVID-19 but following accusations by former employees of abusive behavior and racist remarks on the part of co-owner Abe Conlon.

Source: Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Illinois: Katana
> Location: Chicago

An offshoot of an upscale Los Angeles-based Japanese restaurant with a celebrity clientele opened in Chicago three years ago, specializing in creative sushi offerings and top-of-the-line wagyu beef cooked on charcoal imported from Japan. The group that owns Katana announced in mid-May that it would not be reopening. A location in Dubai has also closed.

Source: 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 in 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.”

Source: Courtesy of Uncle Andy’s Diner via Facebook

Maine: Uncle Andy’s Diner
> Location: Portland

Uncle Andy’s opened in 1954, establishing a strong local reputation for comforting diner classics — including made-to-order pancakes, which current proprietor Dennis Fogg would shape into dinosaurs or flowers to please his younger customers.

The diner was struggling even before the virus hit — it was the subject of a makeover on the Food Network show “Restaurant Impossible” — but as Fogg explained to the Portland Press-Herald, “We’ve always been able to just get by, but now we can’t.”