New York: Augustine
> Location: New York City
Blaming the inflexibility of his landlord, celebrated restaurateur Keith McNally announced on Instagram in late July that his French brasserie in downtown Manhattan’s Beekman Hotel, opened in 2016, is now out of business. McNally, who himself was hospitalized for COVID-19 in April but is now fully recovered, had earlier closed his 31-year-old SoHo bistro Lucky Strike due to the pandemic. On Instagram, McNally wrote that he looked forward to seeing his customers at one of his other New York City establishments — which include Balthazar, Pastis, and Minetta Tavern — “Or Debtor’s Prison – whichever comes first.”
New York: Uncle Boons
> Location: New York City
Two former chefs at Thomas Keller’s acclaimed Per Se, Ann Redding and Matt Danzer, opened this small but very popular (and eventually Michelin-starred) Thai restaurant in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood in 2013. Now, a statement on the restaurant’s Instagram page says, “We’ve made the very difficult decision not to reopen Uncle Boon on the other side of the pandemic.” Eater called Redding and Danzer “some of the most exciting restaurateurs in NYC” on the basis of this place and their subsequently opened restaurants Uncle Boons Sister (which remains open for delivery and takeout) and Thai Diner (which will continue to deliver some favored Uncle Boons menu items).
North Carolina: Elmo’s Diner
> Location: Carrboro
In a lengthy Facebook message posted Sept. 18, Elmo’s — famous for almost 30 years for its all-day breakfasts — announced that it was permanently closed. “We cannot wrap our heads around how we can safely serve people and stay distant from our co-workers and our customers,” read the statement in part. “We cannot wrap our heads around how limited capacity can pay the bills or how take-out can be enough to outweigh the risks for both us and our customers.” The message adds,”while scrutinizing the whole of our situation, our moral and financial obligations we realized we have been waiting in denial for a miracle.”
> Location: Cleveland
After almost 30 years, this East Side Cleveland staple closed its doors in late September. Though the restaurant’s owner and chef, Randal Johnson, told Cleveland Scene that “This whole Covid thing started off good for us, when we were doing take-out,” business faltered as time went on. A big problem was that he had no outdoor dining areas, and when restaurants began to reopen, he suffered. Then, three of his key employees didn’t come to work one day and the 63-year-old Johnson stepped in to cook and clean up. “I tried to do it, but I’m just not 50 anymore,” he told the News-Herald. He made the decision to close the place and is looking (not very hopefully) for a buyer.
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.