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.”
> 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.”
> 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.”
Kansas: Brookville Hotel
> Location: Abilene
Mark and Connie Martin opened this popular fried-chicken emporium in 2000, but it traces its origins to a small 1870-vintage hotel and restaurant in nearby Brookville, bought by the Martin family in 1894. Despite the establishment’s long history — and recognition as an “American Classic” by the James Beard Foundation in 2007 — the place became yet another victim of the pandemic in late September. Martin told WION-TV that he usually cleared $50,000 a year in profits, but by the time he shut down this year he had already lost $50,000.
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.”