Special Report

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

Source: Courtesy of Ritz Barbecue via Facebook

Pennsylvania: Ritz Barbecue
> Location: Allentown

Described by the Morning Call as “An Allentown landmark restaurant where generations of families gathered for barbecue, banana splits, milkshakes and more,” the Ritz grew out of a fairgrounds stand established in 1927 and moved to its present site 10 years later. The current owners, Jeff and Grace Stinner, who took over in 1981, announced in mid-June that they would not reopen. Though the restaurant had been for sale since 2019, Grace stressed to the Morning Call that the pandemic is to blame for their recent decision. “We did want to stay open until someone else took over,” she said, “but that’s not feasible now.

Source: Courtesy of Jestine's Kitchen via Facebook

South Carolina: Jestine’s Kitchen
> Location: Charleston

A major tourist draw for 24 years, Jestine’s was named for Jestine Matthews, the African American housekeeper and cook employed by the white family that founded the place (Matthews died in 1997 at the age of 112). It was recently criticized as “the last Charleston restaurant to openly capitalize on the narrative of black servitude,” in the words of The Post and Courier. After reopening on May 20, the restaurant announced in mid-June that it would cease operations for good due to “the quick onset of the scary pandemic.”

Source: Courtesy of McCrady's Restaurant via Facebook

South Carolina: McCrady’s
> Location: Charleston

Known for the avant-garde tasting menus introduced by noted chef Sean Brock (who departed in 2018), McCrady’s will not resume serving even after restrictions are lifted. David Howard, president of Neighborhood Dining Group, which owns the restaurant, issued a statement saying in part that “we’ve come to the difficult decision that McCrady’s…will no longer be viable in this changed business environment….” The group’s Mexican restaurant, Minero, upstairs from McCrady’s, has also closed for good, but the Atlanta location has reopened, with restrictions in place, and a new location, on John’s Island, just southwest of Charleston, is scheduled to open later this summer.

Source: Courtesy of RED Steakhouse via Facebook

South Dakota: RED Steakhouse
> Location: Vermillion

Opened 10 years ago, RED aimed to provide what owners Jerad and Peggy Higman called, “an upscale experience with small town warmth.” One of the best-known restaurants in this college town in southeastern South Dakota, near the Nebraska border, closed, supposedly temporarily in March, but on Sept. 4, the Higmans announced, “with much regret” that it wouldn’t reopen.

Source: Courtesy of Luby's via Facebook

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.

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