China Inn near U of L closed after 30 years.

2020, we hardly knew ye. Now get out of here!

Happy New Year! Anybody out there who isn’t happy to see 2020 go, raise your hand!

[Looking around]

I didn’t think so. This has been a strange, tumultuous, and downright scary year. Sure, it’s had some high spots. We’re looking at you, Joe and Kamala! But the arrival of a pandemic that none of us saw coming at this time last year turned 2020 into a swirling black whirlpool that didn’t make anyone happy.

A year ago at this time, who knew where Wuhan, China, was? Or what’s a coronavirus? Something to do with Mexican beer? And Covid? Nope. It may seem like an eternity since we learned about masking up, social distancing, sanitizing everything, washing our hands and keeping them away from our faces … yes, what a long, strange trip it’s been.

And even all this seems trivial to those who’ve lost family members and friends to the disease. That, of course, is the worst outcome of all. Even with a vaccine and a possible end to the pandemic and a new normal on the distant horizon, there’s no way to replace what has been lost.

The restaurant, bar, and entertainment industry has been hard hit too. Dozens of local institutions are gone forever, and many more are struggling as we move into the cold months of winter. The loss of those businesses spells the loss of jobs and income for thousands more local families, and that’s more bad news.

There just aren’t any winners on this journey, and even if we console ourselves by assuming that new backers will eventually raise new money and bring new businesses and new jobs to those shuttered spaces, we have to know that nothing is ever going to be quite the same.

Let’s take a moment as we approach the year’s end to remember favorite spots that have gone and won’t be back. While some of the long-term institutions drew gasps of pain when their closing was announced – Couvillion, Eiderdown, Harvest, Migo, Milkwood, North End, Rye, Uptown and Z’s all did that to me – there is no joy in the loss of any of these places. Not counting fast-food operations, corporate chains, or single units of local multiple-shop groups (although those, too, matter), here’s my list of 30 local, independent eateries that have closed completely during the year. Some were billed as retirements or lost leases, but it’s reasonable to assume that Covid-19 can claim them, too, as victims.

Louisville restaurants closed in 2020

At The Italian Table, 2359 Frankfort Ave.
The Bakery at Sullivan University, 3100 Bardstown Road.
Barry’s Cheesesteaks and More, 7502 Preston Highway.
Bistro 42, 6021 Timber Ridge Drive.
Buckhead Mountain Grill, 3020 Bardstown Road and 707 W. Riverside Drive in Jeffersonville.
China Inn Restaurant, 1925 S. Fourth St.
Couvillion , 1318 McHenry St.
Crescent Hill Craft House, 2636 Frankfort Ave.
Dish on Market, 434 W. Market St.
Eiderdown, 983 Goss Ave.
Griff’s, 133 E. Liberty St.
Harvest, 624 E. Market St.
Hearth on Mellwood Eatery, 1765 Mellwood Ave.
Johnny Brusco’s New York Style Pizza, 10600 Meeting St.
Kai Lana Sushi, 6435 Bardstown Road.
Lilly’s Bistro, 1147 Bardstown Road
Lola’s Kitchen, 2240 Frankfort Ave.
Longboard’s Tacos & Tiki, 302 Pearl St., New Albany.
Migo, 2222 Dundee Road
Milkwood, 316 W. Main St.
North End Café, 1722 Frankfort Ave.
The Old Stone Inn & Tavern, 6905 Shelbyville Road, Simpsonville.
Ole Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que, 6006 Shepherdsville Road
Rye on Market, 900 E. Market St.
Scarlet’s Bakery, 741 E. Oak St., 106 Fairfax Ave.
Shenanigans Irish Grille, 1611 Norris Place,
Spring Street Bar & Grill, 300 S. Spring St.
Uptown Cafe, 1624 Bardstown Road.
Verbena Cafe, 10639 Meeting St.
Z’s Oyster Bar & Steakhouse, 101 Whittington Parkway

Restaurants opened during the pandemic

Meanwhile, let’s raise up a shout for these bold entrepreneurs who opened restaurants during the pandemic. Adding to a list I published last summer, I now count a dozen-plus new locally owned and operated eateries. Let’s give them our applause and our support: