“We sincerely thank you for your decades of support.”

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After nearly 40 years in business, the Chapel Hill restaurant often credited with being the birthplace of shrimp and grits has permanently closed its doors.

Beloved for its innovative takes on Southern cuisine and a pie so good it will make you blaspheme, Crook's Corner was reportedly unable to rebound following the coronavirus pandemic.  

Co-owners Gary Crunkleton and Shannon Healy broke the sad news on social media.

"With an incredibly heavy heart I must share the news that we are closing," the announcement reads. "The position we find ourselves in, exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis is no longer tenable."

"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," the Facebook post continues. "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."

Crook's Corner, located on the corner of Franklin Street and Merritt Mill Road, was opened in 1982 by Gene Hamer and chef Bill Neal. Bill Smith took over when Neal passed away in 1991. He went on to be named finalist for the Best Chef in the Southeast at the James Beard Awards in 2009 and 2010. Crook's Corner was included in Southern Living's 2014 list of the 100 Best Restaurants in the South.  

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In 2019, after decades of success, Smith and Hamer retired and sold the restaurant to Crunkleton and Healy.

"I've been here many years, and I've spent the last few trying to save Crook's," Healy told Eater Carolinas. "This was obviously not the ending to this story that I wanted. I am heartbroken."

We're so sorry to see you go, Crook's!