Crook’s Corner, a staple of the Chapel Hill restaurant scene that has served Southern cuisine since the early 1980s, has announced its closure in a statement via Instagram Wednesday.
“With an incredibly heavy heart, I must share the news that we are closing,” the statement read. “The position we find ourselves in, exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis is no longer tenable.”
First run by Rachel Crook, the restaurant started out as a fish market in the 1940s and has taken on many identities over the years. From the taxi rank to the pool hall to the bait and gear shop, Crook’s, like its menu, has changed with the seasons.
Gene Hamer and Bill Neal opened the small restaurant now known as Crook’s Corner in 1982. Between the food – including iconic dishes such as honeysuckle sorbet and shrimp and oatmeal – and the story, it’s hard to say which one is the richest.
“It has been heartbreaking days to hear from so many people, who are here now or who have been here for the past 40 years,” said owner Shannon Healy. “The outpouring has been incredible.”
Crook’s Corner was named James Beard America’s Classic restaurant in 2011 for its timeless appeal and quality cuisine that reflects the character of its community.
Young rising UNC student Waverly McIver has said she’s going to miss out on banana French toast, her favorite choice for Sunday brunch.
For McIver, dining at Crook’s was a tradition passed down from generation to generation. Her parents went to Crook when they were students at UNC, she said, and they took her there before she moved in this year.
“I remember getting nervous about the semester before our meal, but I felt so comforted by the food and the memories they shared with me that came through while eating at Crook,” he said. she declared.
The love for Crook’s extends beyond food – Healy has said he will be missed by repeat customers and the relationships he has developed with them.
“We’ve known them for years, so we will miss them very much,” he said. “Friendships grow when meeting these people, and that’s why we fought so hard to keep Crook open.”
There is no plan to reopen at this time, Healy said.
McIver said she was sad at the loss of the restaurant but grateful for the time she spent there.
“Please avoid maintaining this special restaurant for so many years in peace, knowing that you have touched many generations of customers with great food and unsurpassed service,” she said.
When asked if he could say one thing to his clients, Healy only replied this:
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