The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the restaurant industry, with many beloved restaurants closing their doors for good. While some chains have been able to weather the storm, independent restaurants have been hit particularly hard due to their lack of corporate funding and inability to adapt to the new normal. From old school institutions to avant-garde eateries, the restaurant industry has seen a wave of closures that have left many feeling sad and nostalgic. Souplantation, a popular chain of self-service buffets, was one of the first to close its doors in response to the pandemic.
Founded in 1978, the chain had spread across California and the Southern U. S., but was unable to adapt to federal recommendations against self-service operations. Similarly, Villa Blanca, a popular restaurant featured on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, closed its doors due to a combination of rising rents and the pandemic. Pacific Dining Car, an iconic Los Angeles restaurant that opened in 1921, was another casualty of the pandemic.
The restaurant was known for its exclusive steaks and cozy leather booths, and had attracted early screen stars such as Mae West and George Raft. K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, a New Orleans restaurant founded by celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme, also closed its doors due to the pandemic. Prudhomme's legacy lives on through his cookbooks and television series, as well as his Creole-Cajun condiments. The Source, one of Washington D.
C.'s best restaurants, also closed due to the pandemic. The Asian fusion restaurant was part of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck's empire, and had become a favorite among locals for its izakaya bar food. Puck has since shifted his focus to reopening his other restaurants in West Hollywood and filming A Very Silly Cooking Show with his daughter Pandora. Chicago's Blackbird restaurant was another casualty of the pandemic.
Founded by Donnie Madia and Ricky Diarmit in collaboration with chef Paul Kahan, the West Loop restaurant had become renowned for its refined yet unpretentious menu. Similarly, Momofuku, an iconic New York City restaurant founded by celebrity chef David Chang, closed its doors due to the pandemic. Chang's charming mix of hi-fi and high-end elements had revolutionized the restaurant industry when it opened in the 1940s. The closures have taken a toll on many restaurateurs, including Puck and Chang who have both admitted to feeling emotional about their decisions. While it is unclear when restaurants will return to their previous normality, one thing is certain: we will miss them.