This is the latest in an occasional series looking at independent restaurants closing their doors permanently due to the pandemic.
With winter looming and no clear second round of federal aid in sight, independent restaurants are making the difficult decision to permanently close.
Whether they’re helmed by a big-name chef or have been around by decades, most all have been impacted by the plummet in dine-in traffic brought on by the coronavirus.
Here are some of the latest independent restaurants to announce their last service.
Ronny’s Steakhouse, Chicago
Ronny’s Steakhouse in downtown Chicago, which opened 57 years ago, announced its permanent closure on Facebook earlier this week. The restaurant was one of a number of value-focused steak concepts in the city, offering up a full steak dinner for less than $10. At one time, there were multiple Ronny’s locations in the city and suburbs. This was the last one. “It has been a historic run; it’s time to turn off that famous neon sign one final time,” the post said. “From a foundational dream in 1963, both a legacy and legend were born. Excellent food, great service and amazing prices were the keystones to our success.”
TAK Room, New York City
TAK Room, the pricey new Thomas Keller outpost at the Hudson Yards development, has closed after little more than a year in business. Keller also closed his Bouchon Bakery location there. The decisions “were not made lightly,” the TAK Room team said on Instagram, in announcing the shutter last month.
“They came after painful deliberations amid a pandemic that has devastated the global economy and caused irreparable damage to our business and profession,” the post said. “Given the challenges of the last five months; we could not find an economically viable path to continue operating without expected seasonal, New York tourism and traffic.”
The Riddler, San Francisco and New York City
Champagne-and-small bites bar The Riddler is closing its two locations, one in San Francisco and one in New York City’s West Village. The bars prided themselves on supporting women. They were run by women, backed by more than 50 female investors, and frequently partnered with women winemakers and other artisans. In recent months, the bars worked with landlords to reduce rents and received federal aid to stay afloat. It was not enough. The Riddler is liquidating its wine and Champagne inventory and will work with an auction house this fall to sell off its crystal glassware, custom brass fixtures, silver Champagne buckets and more.
“Unfortunately, we were losing more than we could sustain,” The Riddler’s owners wrote in an email to customers. “We restaurant owners are optimists. We’re risk takers. We see opportunities where many others do not. We’re flexible, we pivot easily. We have countless ideas of new ways we can extend our brands … Unfortunately, even with our support system, we simply can’t make the numbers work.”
Tin Fish; Tinley Park, Ill.
Seafood restaurant and oyster bar Tin Fish recently announced its closure after 18 years in Tinley Park, Ill.
“I’m not happy, but it’s something a lot of us are going through,” co-owner Curtis Wierbicki told local media. “We tried carryout, but seafood doesn’t travel well, not compared to Italian.” Plus, the restaurant was hampered by its lack of a patio for outdoor dining.
The decision to close for good came after two regular customers informed Wierbicki they had tested positive for COVID.
The Mermaid Inn, New York City
The original location of The Mermaid Inn, in New York’s East Village, said it could not reach a rent deal with its landlord and would be forced to close. It operated in the spot for more than 17 years.
The restaurant was known for its happy hour deals, as well as its crab cakes and lobster rolls.
“We had never figured out, for The Mermaid, how to make that food travel well,” co-owner Danny Abrams told Restaurant Business. “If you were not doing delivery before the pandemic, you’re not getting any traction.”
Beverly Soon Tofu, Los Angeles
One of the longest-running establishments in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, Beverly Soon Tofu said it would close after 34 years in business later this month. The restaurant was once featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” TV program. The spot was famous for serving sundubu-jjigae, a smoky-spicy Korean stew made with extra-soft tofu. Restaurant founder Monica Lee crafted a menu around various riffs on the comforting dish.
“It was a really hard decision,” JJ Lee, the founder’s daughter, told Eater. “My mom was giving 110% to this restaurant. The pandemic just called her to action and we had to make this decision … There are too many uncertainties to keep going.”
Sacred Chow, New York City
Vegan restaurant Sacred Chow, which has been in New York’s Greenwich Village for 25 years, announced that it plans to close permanently on Monday. The restaurant served a menu that was entirely plant-based, organic and kosher, including Power Bowls of tofu curry and Bubby Meyer’s “Chopped Liver” Pate made with French lentils, caramelized onion and sunflower seeds. The restaurant is hosting an “Au Revoir Garage Sale” this weekend. “To all my fellow COVID-strapped vegan chefs & owners, come take a look, everything Is at near-nothing or free,” Sacred Chow posted on Instagram. “Tons of stainless steel shelving, tables, restaurant-kitchen supplies & equipment, big & small, all vegan clean!”