Commonwealth Bistro Announces Closure: "We Are Devastated"
Commonwealth Bistro announced Wednesday that it is closing.
"We are devastated to share that Commonwealth’s days have come to an end," owners Chris and Tess Burns posted to the restaurant's Facebook page. "Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have to close. We are taking some time to process this, our family is truly heartbroken. We would like to thank each and every one of you for the support you have given to Commonwealth Bistro. It has been an absolute pleasure serving you over the years. We are incredibly grateful for our entire community. May 2021 be a year of healing and health."
Further details were not immediately available.
The restaurant was a longtime dream of the couple, and its conception was first reported by The River City News in 2013 when a crowdsourcing fundraising effort was launched.
The Burnses transformed a pair of old buildings on Main Street in Covington's Mainstrasse Village, though the effort was met with delays along the way.
Finally, in 2016, the wait was over and Commonwealth opened its doors.
"Everything at Commonwealth has roots: our cuisine, our building, the decor, and even our staff," Tess Burns told RCN at the time. "I actually grew up three doors down, and lived in an apartment in the building that now houses Bean Haus in my early twenties. Our roots definitely took some time to grow and we are excited to show everyone it was worth the wait."
The menu featured Kentucky-centric, southern-inspired dishes like Kentucky fried rabbit, creamed collard greens, and buttermilk biscuits. Its cocktail menu was also creative and extensive.
"The menu people will see is a combination of an inspired interpretation of southern cuisine utilizing local ingredients, and my own history as a chef over the past 25 years," Chris Burns, who was also chef at the restaurant, said at the time.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, closing restaurants, and relegating those who could muster it to take-out or delivery-only, Commonwealth struggled, and the Burnses decided to change the restaurant's focus.
Last May, The River City News reported the restaurant's reopening.
Commonwealth was able to secure a loan through the federal program pushed through Congress last spring, but the Burnses realized that they could not return their full staff to work, especially with reduced capacity in dining rooms. "The business model was not conceivable for us," Tess Burns told RCN then. "It wouldn't work."
The plan, as reported last year, was to do carry-out and delivery, and eventually, catering, too. The expanded outdoor dining area, an elevated space off the building's second floor called "Yonder", was also set to accommodate guests with small-plates and drinks.
"I think if we had to change who we are at the core, that would be a problem, but we are OK because we can still serve farm-to-table," Tess Burns said last year. "Although it looks different, we are still serving people in the same capacity."
This story may be updated when more information is available.
-Michael Monks, editor & publisher