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.”
> 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.”
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.
> 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.
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.”
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