Corner Kitchen, the popular Oregon District restaurant that opened in July 2015 under the direction of the husband-and-wife team of Jack and Natalie Skilliter, is shutting down indefinitely, its owners wrote on Corner Kitchen's Facebook page this afternoon, June 29.
“It is with a profoundly heavy heart that we write this, but we cannot ignore the situation in which we find ourselves. We are officially closing Corner Kitchen indefinitely,” the Skilliters wrote.
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The restaurant at 613 E. Fifth St. at Wayne Avenue had reopened on June 19 with a new business and service model and a significantly revamped menu. Customers were asked to order their meals at a counter rather than at their table, and reservations were no longer available. The restaurant’s slogan changed from “A finer diner” to “A faster finer diner.”
“A restaurant operates with a tacit public trust that the top priority is the health and well-being of the guests that they serve and the staff that they employ, and that has always been paramount for us,” the owners wrote today. “Neither our new model nor our previous model can survive in this current climate with our expense load and reduction in volume. We simply cannot find a financial model in any iteration of the dozens of scenarios that we have explored without either operating in an unsafe environment or incurring insurmountable debt.”
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“Although this is the hardest decision that we have ever made, it is one that would be irrational to delay or foolish to ignore. Our initial hiatus and reopening planning during stay-at-home provided us with precious time as a family, a challenge for all restaurant owners, and that perspective has also made us rethink and focus on our future at home.”
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Jack Skilliter is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and Ohio State University, and previously served as executive chef at what was then the Dayton Racquet Club. He also previously worked at Le Petit Bistro in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and served as sous chef at RIS, a restaurant co-located with a Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington D.C. Natalie Skilliter served as as floor manager and director of catering for Terrapin Restaurant & Catering in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and as general manager of RIS restaurant in Washington D.C.
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“Throughout the Miami Valley, we have felt so much love and support from the day we opened five years ago. We know that the passion of our hard-working staff provided so many memorable dinners and led to many, many friendships,” the couple wrote. “However, the challenges of the current pandemic and the affect that it has on restaurant businesses has made us analyze the viability of continuing to operate. While we reopened with a change to our concept, we realize that we had to make a departure from what has come to be expected of us and the Corner Kitchen dining experience.”
The Skilliters added, “We implore you to continue to support our local, independent restaurants. They need you more than ever.”
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The couple said they will “cherish all of the memories that our community shared with us. We are sorry that we couldn't do more, and we are utterly heartbroken, we will miss all of you – we will miss the joy that you brought to our lives. Thank you for helping make our dream come true.”