Special Report

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

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Even though restaurants across the nation are now permitted (at least provisionally) to serve indoors — with customer limits ranging from 25% to 100% of their total seating capacity and with social distancing rules in force — many are still finding it hard to break even, much less make a profit. (These are the restaurant reopening restrictions in every state.)

In late September, representatives of America’s beleaguered food service trade — ranging from the proprietors of small eateries to the chairman of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) — appeared before the House Ways and Means subcommittee in Congress to plead for further federal assistance.

Unfortunately, considering President Donald Trump’s on-again, off-again statements on relief package negotiations and the difficulties both parties are having with finding common ground, it’s likely that, as the NRA reported last week, “Any additional federal financial help for the restaurant industry faces a bumpy path and is unlikely at least before November and probably before January.” (The organization offers restaurateurs advice on dealing with issues related to the pandemic on its Coronavirus Information and Resources website.)

Meanwhile, without government help and facing numerous challenges, restaurants continue to close down permanently all over America. Neither popularity, iconic status, longevity, nor the involvement of celebrity chefs seems to protect establishments from going under.

The 99-year-old Pacific Dining Car in Los Angeles recently closed permanently, for instance; world-renowned chef-restaurateur Wolfgang Puck has just shut down his third restaurant for reasons related to the pandemic; the Luby’s cafeteria chain, a family favorite all over Texas for almost three-quarters of a century, has liquidated its assets. It would hardly be surprising to see further closings even among the highest rated restaurants in America.

Click here for the 50 most popular restaurants that won’t reopen after the pandemic.

Since May, 24/7 Tempo has been tracking permanent restaurant closures all over the U.S., with updates about every two weeks. This edition of the list covers popular places in 21 states and the District of Columbia. States whose major cities are famous for their food scenes — primarily California, Illinois, and New York — have been particularly badly hit. No corner of the country is immune, however, and new restaurant casualties will doubtless be added to this list almost daily until the COVID-19 crisis is over.

Source: Courtesy Amy P. via Yelp

California: Nak Won House
> Location: Los Angeles

For 34 years, this modest strip mall eatery served Korean comfort food to Koreatown locals and visitors alike. Featuring “bunsik,” a term encompassing a variety of snacks and other inexpensive dishes, Nak Won is said to have introduced many diners to Korea’s cuisine. Unfortunately, it served its last meal on Sept. 30 — due, according to a statement issued by the restaurant, “to unforeseen financial circumstances from COVID-19.”


Source: Courtesy of Farfallon

California: Farfallon
> Location: San Francisco

Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as a “fantastical seafood restaurant,” Farfallon’s over-the-top decor 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.”

Source: Courtesy of Eric U. via Yelp

California: Pacific Dining Car
> Location: Los Angeles

This legendary steakhouse’s 30-year-old Santa Monica offshoot closed for good in June. Now it’s the original’s turn. Almost a century old (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.

Source: Courtesy of Ma'am Sir via Facebook

California: Ma’am Sir
> Location: Los Angeles

Filipino food is a burgeoning trend in Los Angeles these days, and this was one of the genre’s best and most highly praised restaurants — recipient of a rave review in the L.A. Times and named to the Eater Essential 38 for Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Ma’am Sir closed for good in late August. “Thank you to all,” wrote owner Charles Olalia in an Instagram post directed to his fans. “It was a pleasure to have welcomed you once upon a time. There will come a time when I can welcome you again.”


Source: 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, has a Michelin star — closed Bäco Mercat early in Aug. 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.”

California: Din Tai Fung
> Location: Arcadia

This highly acclaimed international dumpling and noodle house chain, founded in Taiwan in 1972, opened this, its first North American location, in 2000. Now it’s gone. A post on the restaurant’s Instagram page reads, “As a result of the current economic climate, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close…” Southern Californians will still be able to enjoy Din Tai Fung’s famous xiao long bao — better known as soup dumplings — and other specialties at the chain’s Century City and Santa Anita locations.


Source: Courtesy of The Bazaar by José Andrés

California: The Bazaar by José Andrés and Somni
> Location: Los Angeles

High-profile chef-restaurateur and humanitarian José Andrés announced in early August that he was shuttering his Spanish-inspired dining room The Bazaar in the SLS Beverly Hills hotel. Though the closing comes amidst legal actions between the chef’s ThinkFoodGroup and the hotel owners that aren’t directly related to the pandemic, the group’s statement on the closure blames the hotel company for “alleging defaults that were obviously incapable of being cured while our employees lived through shelter-in-place orders.” Also closed is Somni, the 10-seat avant-garde tasting-menu counter operation, nestled behind The Bazaar — one of the few L.A. restaurants with two Michelin stars.

Source: 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 41 years ago. In announcing on Instagram that this year was their last, 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 …”

Source: 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. Though no official announcement of its closing has been made, employees recently received letters of termination, effective Aug. 15, and the restaurant no longer appears on the group website.


Source: 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.”

Source: 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, 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.”


Source: 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.”

Source: Courtesy of Dish Bar & Grill / Facebook

Connecticut: Dish Bar & Grill
> Location: Hartford

A favorite with the downtown business community, originally shut down on a temporary basis in March, Dish announced in August that it was closed for good. Co-owner Bill Carbone told the Hartford Courant that “Without outdoor dining, with the size of the space, and with very little corporate business downtown at this point in time,” reopening “just doesn’t make sense.” He cited the fact that major local employers like insurance companies Aetna and The Hartford have told their workers to stay home until the end of the year as a contributing factor to the decision.

Source: Courtesy of JT B. via Yelp

Florida: Upland
> Location: Miami

Philadelphia restaurateur Steven Starr, who operates dozens of acclaimed restaurants in several states, permanently closed this California-style establishment — an offshoot of the popular Upland on Park Avenue in New York City — in early September. Besides shuttering, the restaurant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing 17 creditors. “The realities of the impact of the pandemic and the gamble on the unknowns of when life will resume left this specific operating entity with little choice,” Starr told the Philadelphia Business Journal.


Source: Frank K. via Yelp

Florida: La Tropicana
> Location: Tampa

Presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, along with several Florida governors, were among the many customers of this 1963-vintage Cuban café over the years. A focus of public life in Tampa’s historic Ybor City neighborhood, La Tropicana also served a wide range of less famous customers. In explaining why the place was closing down, proprietor Gio Peña told the Tampa Bay Times, “I’d say 80 percent of my regular customers are older people. They are afraid to come out.” He added “We were doing good. Business was steady. And then came COVID.”

Source: Courtesy of Richard L B. via Yelp

Georgia: The Tavern at Phipps
> Location: Atlanta

“Since 1992,” according to the still-active website of this Buckhead mainstay, known for its sandwiches, steaks, and pasta dishes, “The Tavern at Phipps has served over five million patrons and counting.” The counting stopped in early October, when the place, which shut down initially in March, announced that it would not reopen. While some sources cite a lease dispute with its landlord as having led to its demise, the director of marketing for the restaurant’s parent company told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the cause was “timing and the pandemic.”


Source: Courtesy of Howard L. via Yelp

Illinois: Fountainhead
> Location: Chicago

“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.”

Source: Courtesy of Lawry's The Prime Rib, Chicago / Facebook

Illinois: Lawry’s the Prime Rib
> Location: Chicago

This branch of the famed 82-year-old California-based steakhouse chain, which opened in 1974 in the historic McCormick Mansion, announced in September that it will cease operations permanently on Dec. 31. Corporate CEO Ryan Wilson told the Chicago Tribune that the pandemic was a contributing factor to the decision, but he also cited the expiration of the current lease and vandalism linked to recent protests in the downtown area.

Source: Courtesy of Five Forks Market / Facebook

Illinois: Five Forks Market
> Location: Rockford

A longtime favorite in this northern Illinois community, where the wide-ranging menu featured everything from crab cakes to flatbread pizzas to stuffed duck, Five Forks has gone out of business. The owners of this casual 15-year-old establishment posted a message on Facebook on Sept. 23, reading in part, “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closing of Five Forks.” A week earlier, it had shut down temporarily after discovering that an employee may have been exposed to the coronavirus.


Source: Courtesy of La Sardine via Facebook

Illinois: La Sardine
> Location: Chicago

“After much thought and negotiation, it breaks our heart to announce that after 22 years, we will be permanently closing,” read a statement on this popular French bistro’s Instagram page in mid-August. Le Sardine’s founders, Jean-Claude and Susanne Poilevey, both died in recent years (Jean-Claude in 2016, his wife last year). Their son, Oliver, who had been running the place, told the Chicago Tribune, “A month, month and a half ago, I thought we were going to make it.”

Source: Courtesy of Passerotto / Facebook

Illinois: Passerotto
> Location: Chicago

A five-star review from Time Out didn’t help this place survive the pandemic. The publication described it as an “Italian-influenced Korean-American eatery” and a “lively ecosystem” with a “boisterous bar.” In addition to the problems caused by the pandemic, chef-proprietor Jennifer Kim had grown “pessimistic that operators can ethically run a restaurant under current capitalistic conditions,” according to Eater. The restaurant served a takeout Farewell Menu until it turned out the lights on Sept. 12.


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 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 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.


Source: Courtesy of Sunset Restaurant Lounge via Facebook

Maryland: Sunset Restaurant Lounge
> Location: Glen Burnie

From its origins as a nightclub, complete with slot machines, in 1960, this establishment in a Baltimore suburb evolved into a popular full-service restaurant, known for its crab soup and other local specialties. In late August, the owners announced on their Facebook page that they would close permanently on Sept. 30. “We anticipated celebrating our 60th anniversary this year but instead we were met with unprecedented hardship due to the COVID Pandemic,” they wrote. “Like many other family owned businesses, restrictions and the regulations imposed by the restaurant industry have driven us to make this decision.”

Source: Courtesy of SA PA / Facebook

Massachusetts: SAPA
> Location: Hingham

This Asian fusion restaurant at the Hingham Shipyard marina, just southeast of Boston, stopped serving on Sept. 5. Though only two years old, it had built a local following and was convenient to local shops and the Boston ferry landing. “The severe restrictions on restaurant operations and the lengthy standstill of business and everyday life in Massachusetts have completely and unforeseeably made SAPA’s continued success impossible,” said Dan Nardo of Nardo & Associates, a crisis advisory firm working with the restaurant, in a press release.


Source: Courtesy of Dan R. via Yelp

Massachusetts: Legal Test Kitchen
> Location: Boston

A branch of the famed Massachusetts fish and shellfish chain Legal Seafoods, this once-bustling 15-year-old establishment in Boston’s Seaport district is now out of business, according to information reported on Aug. 27. “Due to the lack of area business and travel … “the company felt it didn’t make sense to reopen the location,” Legal explained to Boston.com. There is one other Test Kitchen location at the city’s Logan Airport (the idea was that the Test Kitchens would experiment on dishes not found on the chain’s usual menus). It is currently closed but will reopen in early fall. Meanwhile, 11 other Legal Seafood locations around the state remain open.

Source: fourseasons.com

Michigan: Wolfgang Puck Steak
> Location: Detroit

As further proof, if any were needed, that even restaurants run by world-famous celebrity chefs can’t necessarily survive the pandemic, Wolfgang Puck has announced that he will not reopen his eight-year-old upscale steakhouse in the MGM Grand Detroit casino. Though he hasn’t specifically blamed the effects of the coronavirus for the closure, the restaurant has been dark throughout the course of the pandemic, and business would now be restricted as Michigan has reopened casinos with only limited capacity. Earlier this year, two other Puck properties shut down — Five Sixty in Dallas and The Source in Washington, D.C.

Source: Courtesy of Markovski's Family Restaurant via Facebook

Michigan: Markovski’s Family Restaurant
> Location: Dearborn Heights

After 50 years in business in this suburb of Detroit, Markovski’s, famous for its stuffed cabbage, kielbasa, and other Polish specialties, has said goodbye. In a statement on Facebook, the proprietors declared that “A worldwide pandemic was the only thing that could separate our tightly knit family [and] if you were here, you were definitely family.”


Source: Courtesy of Butcher & the Boar via Facebook

Minnesota: Butcher & the Boar
> Location: Minneapolis

Aug. 31 was the last night of service for this downtown Minneapolis establishment — described by the Star Tribune as a “loud, lively, fun-loving restaurant” with “a one-of-a-kind” menu attracting “crowds and critical acclaim.” A sign posted on the door of the 8-year-old restaurant read in part, “Due to Covid 19 and the unrest in Minneapolis we are sadly closing our doors permanently.” A second location in Charleston, South Carolina, remains open.

Source: 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.”


Source: 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 …”

Source: Courtesy of Winnie W. via Yelp

Nevada: Santa Fe Basque Restaurant
> Location: Reno

One of the best-known of a diminishing number of old-style Basque boarding houses/restaurants in Nevada, Idaho, and California, the 71-year-old Santa Fe served simple, hearty, multi-course meals in family-style abundance. A message on the restaurant’s Facebook page reads, “It’s official we have closed our doors. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE THAT HAS SUPPORTED US FOR THE LAST 71 YEARS. And a big thanks to all of our guests on our final night you made it an emotional yet awesome farewell.”

Source: Courtesy of Buddakan / Facebook

New Jersey: Buddakan
> Location: Atlantic City

Philadelphia-based restaurant mogul Steven Starr has announced that the Atlantic City branch of his Buddakan, which features “modern Asian cuisine,” will not be reopening. Buddakans in New York City and Philadelphia remain in business. The New Jersey location, on Playground Pier, has been closed since March. “We couldn’t continue in this environment with the coronavirus and the current state of the pier,” Starr told the Associated Press. “There was barely anyone left there except us.” Another Starr property on the pier, The Continental, won’t reopen either.


Source: Courtesy of Sergio B. via Yelp

New York: 88 Lan Zhou
> Location: New York City

This 13-year-old Chinatown institution, famed for its pork and chive dumplings and its hand-pulled noodles, announced in early August that it would be “closed forever” as of Aug. 15. All the publicity generated by the announcement boosted business, and the restaurant decided to stay open at least temporarily. Early in October, however, a post on the restaurant’s Instagram page read, “With a heavy heart, we are announcing that our final day of operations will be Oct 31st, 2020. We tried everything we could to stay afloat, but in the end, it was just too difficult to just survive in these current conditions.”

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.


Source: Courtesy of Mission Manhattan via Yelp

New York: Mission Chinese
> Location: New York City

Mission Chinese, which got its start as a pop-up inside a traditional Chinese restaurant in San Francisco before evolving into a permanent place there in 2010, expanded to New York City’s Lower East Side in 2012. It hit the city “like a ton of bricks, generating long lines,” according to critic Robert Sietsema on Eater. The website hailed Korean-born chef-owner Danny Bowien’s “genre-bending” cuisine, noting that its “Asian-tinged global menu was loud, electric, and eclectic.” A message from Bowlien on the restaurant’s Instagram page in mid-September, citing the challenges posed by the pandemic, said that he had made the decision “to create a business model that forges a new path for survival on our terms.” This involved closing the restaurant as of Sept. 30, though a second location, in Brooklyn, remains open.

Source: Courtesy of Ramon C. via Yelp

New York: Fedora
> Location: New York City

Restaurateur Gabriel Stulman bought this iconic Greenwich Village restaurant — once described by The New York Times as “a clubby Italian institution that had morphed into a kind of gay senior center” — from owner Fedora Dorato in 2010. In mid-September, Stulman announced that Fedora would not reopen from its temporary shutdown. “[O]ur stewardship of Fedora has come to an end,” read a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page. The business might have been able to overcome the obstacles presented by the pandemic crisis, the statement added, but “what’s been more devastating has been the lack of support from our elected officials on the city, state and federal level.” Stulman will honor Fedora with a one-day pop-up on Oct. 6 at Fairfax, another of his restaurants, just across the street.

Source: Courtesy of Jay N. via Yelp

New York: Left Coast Kitchen and Cocktails
> Location: Merrick

A “The popular gastropub … [that] entertained droves of diners for a decade,” according to the LI Herald, Left Coast ceased operations in mid-August. “After 10 years, we are saying goodbye to our wonderful restaurant,” wrote the owners on their Facebook page. “We are sad yet inspired by the endless possibilities. As this chapter closes we have our eyes set on the future.”


Source: Thanh L. via Yelp

New York: Maison Premiere
> Location: Brooklyn

This popular nine-year-old Williamsburg restaurant, known for its oysters, its New Orleans-style dishes, and its James Beard Award-winning bar program, is apparently out of business. Though it has issued no official statement, its website and Instagram page have shut down, its Facebook page continues no posts, and its phone number is not in service. Maison Premier’s sister restaurant, Sauvage, also in Brooklyn, is apparently similarly closed. Both restaurants filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a year ago but had continued operating until they were closed, theoretically temporarily, with the advent of the pandemic.

Source: 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 in 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.”


Source: John Y. via Yelp

New York: Uncle Boons
> Location: New York City

Two former chefs at Thomas Keller’s acclaimed Per Se, Ann Redding and Matt Danzer, opened this small but very popular (and eventually Michelin-starred) Thai restaurant in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood in 2013. Now, a statement on the restaurant’s Instagram page says, “We’ve made the very difficult decision not to reopen Uncle Boon on the other side of the pandemic.” Eater called Redding and Danzer “some of the most exciting restaurateurs in NYC” on the basis of this place and their subsequently opened restaurants Uncle Boons Sister (which remains open for delivery and takeout) and Thai Diner (which will continue to deliver some favored Uncle Boons menu items).

Source: 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.”

Source: Courtesy of Molinari's / Facebook

Ohio: Molinari’s
> Location: Cleveland

After almost 30 years, this East Side Cleveland staple closed its doors in late September. Though the restaurant’s owner and chef, Randal Johnson, told Cleveland Scene that “This whole Covid thing started off good for us, when we were doing take-out,” business faltered as time went on. A big problem was that he had no outdoor dining areas, and when restaurants began to reopen, he suffered. Then, three of his key employees didn’t come to work one day and the 63-year-old Johnson stepped in to cook and clean up. “I tried to do it, but I’m just not 50 anymore,” he told the News-Herald. He made the decision to close the place and is looking (not very hopefully) for a buyer.


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.

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 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.

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.

Source: 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.


Source: Courtesy of America Eats Tavern by José Andrés via Facebook

Washington, D.C.: America Eats Tavern by José Andrés
> Location: Washington D.C.

Peripatetic chef-restaurateur and humanitarian José Andrés opened the original America Eats in 2011 as a pop-up on the site of his Café Atlántico to coincide with an American food exhibition called “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” at the National Archives. It moved from there to the suburb of Tysons Corner, Virginia, and then, two years ago, to Georgetown. In late June, a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page announced that “we will not be reopening in our current home, we look forward to revisiting this concept in the future.”

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