New York: Jewel Bako
> Location: New York City
A sign in the window of this well-loved Michelin-starred sushi bar near Manhattan’s Cooper Square, posted in mid-May, announced an “open house sale” of kitchen goods, appliances, and equipment, as well as wine “for cheap.” In 2018, Jewel Bako’s owners opened a chef’s counter place next door called Restaurant Ukiyo, which also won a Michelin star. A statement on the Ukiyo website announced officially that both establishments have closed for good.
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.
Pennsylvania: Ritz Barbecue
> Location: Allentown
Described by the Morning Call as “An Allentown landmark restaurant where generations of families gathered for barbecue, banana splits, milkshakes and more,” the Ritz grew out of a fairgrounds stand established in 1927 and moved to its present site 10 years later. The current owners, Jeff and Grace Stinner, who took over in 1981, announced in mid-June that they would not reopen. Though the restaurant had been for sale since 2019, Grace stressed to the Morning Call that the pandemic is to blame for their recent decision. “We did want to stay open until someone else took over,” she said, “but that’s not feasible now.
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.”
South Carolina: McCrady’s
> Location: Charleston
Known for the avant-garde tasting menus introduced by noted chef Sean Brock (who departed in 2018), McCrady’s will not resume serving even after restrictions are lifted. David Howard, president of Neighborhood Dining Group, which owns the restaurant, issued a statement saying in part that “we’ve come to the difficult decision that McCrady’s…will no longer be viable in this changed business environment….” The group’s Mexican restaurant, Minero, upstairs from McCrady’s, has also closed for good, but the Atlanta location has reopened, with restrictions in place, and a new location, on John’s Island, just southwest of Charleston, is scheduled to open later this summer.
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