After nearly two years of serving creative Japanese dishes, Blackbird Izakaya has officially closed its doors.
Chef-owner Billy Kim confirmed to Eater on Monday that the restaurant was permanently closed after announcing its departure in a lengthy video montage posted to YouTube on Monday. The video, which is packed with tons of photos from happier times, inspired several comments from devastated diners who were sad to lose one of the city’s most innovative Japanese restaurants.
Kim says that the restaurant pivoted to takeout once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but that this type of dining establishment just isn’t suited to long-term survival with a takeout-focused model. “A lot of my regular business before COVID was really people coming in her to sit at our bar top in front of the open kitchen,” Kim says. “A lot of the menu items that we are known for don’t really translate to carry-out.”
As previously reported, Kim opened Blackbird Izakaya in 2018 in the space at 1221 West 11th Street after closing its predecessor, Republic Diner and Noodle Bar. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it was a popular destination for dinner and drinks, serving everything from Japanese curry katsu to super-fresh sushi and meats grilled over binchotan charcoal.
Still, Kim plans to maintain the lease on Blackbird Izakaya’s space and has some optimism for the future. “We will see what happens in the future,” he says. “I didn’t know this COVID thing would drag on this long.”