James Beard Award-winning Southern restaurant Crook’s Corner announced in an email and on Instagram that it would close its doors, effective immediately, after almost 40 years on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Opened in 1982 by Gene Hamer and chef Bill Neal, Crook’s was at the forefront of the Southern farm-to-table movement, and is credited with popularizing the modern iteration of shrimp and grits.
The email reads:
Dear Crook’s Family and Friends,
For nearly 40 years Crook’s Corner has served and been welcomed by the people of Chapel Hill and the UNC community, we sincerely thank you for your decades of support. It has been an incredible honor to both serve our community in our place and serve Chapel Hill’s culinary ambassador to the wider world.
With an incredibly heavy heart I must share the news that we are closing. The position we find ourselves in, exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis is no longer tenable.
The place Rachel Crook built in the 1940’s on the corner of Franklin and Merritt Mill road had had many lives. It holds the memories of thousands of you celebration sand pivotal career moments for too many of us to count. On behalf of generations of Crook’s Corner staff, we thank you for your many years of support.
Crook’s co-owner Shannon Healy told Eater Carolinas, “I’ve been here many years, and I’ve spent the last few trying to save Crook’s. This was obviously not the ending to this story that I wanted. I am heartbroken.”
When the original chef Bill Neal died in 1991, chef Bill Smith took over and ran the kitchen until 2019. Crook’s recently brought on chef Carrie Schleiffer as a new chapter in the restaurant’s life, but it seems COVID has claimed another institution. Schleiffer did not have a comment for the public at the time of publication.
• Crook’s Corner [Official]