This is the latest in an occasional series looking at independent restaurants closing their doors permanently due to the pandemic.
The gulf between big chains and independents continues to widen as the coronavirus pandemic rages across much of the U.S.
Major restaurant chains have largely recovered their pre-pandemic sales, according to a report released this week by Bank of America. Small chains continue to lag, with the gap widening, the report found.
Large chains often have drive-thrus and were adept at takeout and delivery pre-pandemic, contributing to their continued success.
Independent restaurants, however, were largely unprepared to meet the limited-contact demands of the pandemic. They continue to struggle with reduced-capacity restrictions in dining rooms, as well as re-closures when an employee tests positive for the virus or reopening rollbacks are mandated by local governments.
Independents, many of which operated for decades, are closing their doors in unprecedented numbers. Here’s our fourth installment of independent restaurants that have recently announced permanent closures.
Le Bistro Montage; Portland, Ore.
Quirky neighborhood Cajun and Creole spot Le Bistro Montage, known for its aluminum foil sculptures for leftovers, announced its closure late last month after operating for 27 years.
“We depart with the special feeling that most Portlanders have a memorable Montage story—whether it was a first date or the last stop after a night on the town,” the restaurant wrote on social media.
Blackbird, a defining concept in Chicago’s restaurant scene, said last month it would close after 22 years in operation.
“While our hearts are broken to see Blackbird’s journey come to an end, we are humbled to have contributed in a small way to Chicago’s incredible restaurant community for over two decades, serving as a place of warmth and hospitality while all along the way, building lifelong friendships with our team, guests and partners,” the restaurant’s owners wrote.
ICHI Sushi, San Francisco
After nearly a decade ICHI Sushi said last month it would not reopen in San Francisco after the pandemic subsides.
“ICHI was like a sushi clubhouse, with so many dedicated fans and friends, and a wonderful team,” a remembrance posted on a local restaurant site said. “They have seen so many proposals, reunions, parties and breakups.”
Green Forest Brazilian Restaurant and Lounge; Penn Hills, Penn.
Green Forest Brazilian Restaurant and Lounge had operated near Pittsburgh for two decades before announcing its permanent closure in a Facebook post last month.
“I’m here to say thank you to everyone who chose my place to have a wedding, a bachelor party, Sweet 16, all parties in your life,” the owner said in the video. “I appreciate all of you who came here.”
America Eats Tavern; Washington, D.C.
Even celebrity chef Jose Andres’ businesses are not immune to the troubles wrought by the pandemic.
Andres announced last month that his ThinkFoodGroup would shutter the homage to American culinary history, America Eats Tavern, that began as a pop-up in 2011.
“As many restaurateurs face tough choices for how to re-open and rebuild, we have had to review all of our real estate commitments to ensure we evolve with the changing business landscape in support of our guests and teams,” the parents company wrote in a statement to Eater.
Upstream; Charlotte, N.C.
Parent company Burke Hospitality announced it would not reopen upscale seafood restaurant Upstream late last month. The restaurant’s dining room had been closed since the state mandate on March 17.
“We had a great 20-year run,” the restaurant posted on its website. “Charlotte and the region embraced Upstream and helped make it a culinary treasure. There have been many great chefs and managers and associates that have, over the years, put their mark of hospitality on the restaurant and our community. We applaud all of them as they constantly took care of each other, our guests, our suppliers and purveyors and the neighborhood around them.”
Brave Horse Tavern and Trattoria Cuoco, Seattle
Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas said this week he would close two of his restaurants there, Brave Horse Tavern and Trattoria Cuoco. Both are located in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, where business has suffered due to the work-at-home shift for thousands of Amazon and other tech workers.
“At the end of the day, there is a new reality in the … real estate market,” Douglas told The Seattle Times. “This could go on for years.”