Downtown Raleigh burger joint Chuck’s has shuttered, owner Ashley Christensen announced this week. It is one of the first area restaurants to announce a permanent closure as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This pandemic has been devastating to our industry, and we have spent the last few weeks thinking through solutions for survival, and how to bring our team back to work again,” Christensen wrote in a statement.
The James Beard Award-winning chef will expand the neighboring Beasley’s Chicken and Honey, which she also owns, into the former Chuck’s space on South Wilmington Street.
The news comes as Raleigh prepares to reopen per Governor Cooper’s multi-phase plan, which will keep restaurants closed at least through the end of the month. However, once they are given the green light to reopen at limited capacity, it’s uncertain how they will implement social distancing and bounce back from their losses during the shutdown.
Without government intervention, industry experts have said 75 to 80% of restaurants may be unable to reopen.
Christensen opened Chuck’s in 2011 in the space adjoining Beasley’s Chicken and Honey; the two restaurants have shared a kitchen for almost a decade. The name, Christensen told the INDY in a 2011 feature, was all about the meat: the restaurant’s hearty burger’s were sourced from the cut of the cow’s “chuck” muscle. Chuck’s focus has followed suit, with a menu styled around substantive all-American diner fare, as advertised in the block lettering on the restaurant’s brick exterior: “Burgers. Frites. Shakes. & More.”
And, below those letters, Christensen’s motto: “Don’t forget kindness.”
It’s been a beloved downtown Raleigh institution ever since.
“We love what we have built at Chuck’s over the past 8 1/2 years, and are grateful to have contributed to the downtown Raleigh community,” Christensen said in the statement. “While this decision is hard, we are optimistic for the future of our team, and our industry. We feel that we will have greater opportunity to bring more people back to work by expanding what we do at Beasley’s, and by continuing to evolve that restaurant’s offerings.”
Christensen temporarily closed her six restaurants on March 24 and laid off 90% of AC Restaurant’s 280 employees. While the restaurants have been closed for service, Christensen has kept her kitchens busy with a series of weekly dinner kits and a fundraising aperitif collaboration. In her statement, she noted that she has not yet determined a reopening timeline for the restaurants.
The chef has also been active with the Triangle Restaurant Workers Fund, a fundraising effort for local hospitality workers, as well as with the Independent Restaurant Coalition, a national initiative calling on congress for relief.
The expanded Beasley’s space will incorporate some items from the Chuck’s menu, including burgers, fries, and a handful of shakes.
Contact deputy arts and culture editor Sarah Edwards at email@example.com.
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