Chef Frank Stitt to temporarily close restaurants amid COVID-19 concerns – AL.com

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One of Alabama’s most prestigious chefs will temporarily close his restaurants in response to concerns about COVID-19.

Chef Frank Stitt will close Highlands Bar & Grill, Chez Fonfon and Bottega. The James Beard award-winning chef made the announcement on his social media accounts.

“Pardis & I are temporarily closing our restaurants. The COVID-19 pandemic is a threat to our community, and this is the best way to protect our staff, guests & help stop the spread of this virus. Our passion is welcoming you to our table but at this time, it’s not safe to do so.”

Stitt’s announcement came hours after the Jefferson County Health Department has prohibited bars, restaurants, and breweries in the county from allowing on-premise consumption until March 24th. Monday evening, Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson announced restrictions on restaurants, schools and nursing homes as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Birmingham and the surrounding areas.

Restaurants and bars in Jefferson County will still be allowed to serve carryout. Wilson also encouraged restaurants to offer online ordering and curbside pickup.

The ordinance went into effect Tuesday.

Since the Alabama Department of Public Health announced the state’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 13, restaurants in and around Birmingham began to amend their services to offer take out, delivery, and curbside service.

Before Wilson’s announcement on Monday, some Jefferson County restaurants had already decided to suspend their dining rooms. Area seafood boil restaurant Seafood King closed all three of its locations on March 15. However, the majority of restaurants in the county, including Stitt’s, maintained regular hours.

Stitt is not the only James Beard honored restaurateur to temporarily shutter operations in the wake of the ordinance. Timothy Hontzas, executive chef and proprietor of Johnny’s in Homewood and one of this year’s James Beard semifinalists for best chef South, also announced it would close. Atomic Bar and Lounge, once again nominated this year for outstanding bar program, has shut its doors to comply with the order and plans to reassess conditions on March 31.

So far, two James Beard award nominees and winners remain open. Chef Adam Evans, executive chef of Automatic Seafood and Oyster, an award semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant, made the decision to close the dining room before the ordinance on Monday and developed a special take-out menu. OvenBird and Hot & Hot Fish Club, helmed by chef Chris Hastings, who took home the 2012 James Beard award for Best Chef in America, will offer takeout and curbside service.

Source: Thanks https://www.al.com/life/2020/03/chef-frank-stitt-to-temporarily-close-restaurants-amid-covid-19-concerns.html