The coronavirus pandemic has claimed another casualty of the Baltimore area’s dining scene: The Milton Inn.
In a statement posted to the restaurant’s website, chef and owner Brian Boston wrote: “This business poses great challenges that I conquered daily. Unfortunately, the COVID 19 pandemic was one challenge I couldn’t overcome. Our financial losses are overwhelming and I find it impossible to re-open.”
Housed in an 18th century mansion, the Sparks restaurant was a fixture of Baltimore County’s dining scene going back 70 years.
Boston owned the restaurant since 1997, and his cooking garnered praise with dishes like Hudson Valley foie gras and wild mushroom phyllo.
Milton Inn is the latest in a string of closings that has included the Alexander Brown Restaurant, Mount Vernon’s City Cafe and Ryleigh’s Oyster in Federal Hill. A spokesman for Maisy’s shared on Facebook earlier this month that the restaurant would not be returning after more than 11 years in downtown Baltimore.
According to a June 10 report from the Independent Restaurant Coalition, overall restaurant revenues declined 64% in April and May. The report states that 85% of independent restaurants could close by the end of the year without assistance. Other experts predict around half of restaurants will close.
Fine dining restaurants could be particularly at risk of closing, as such eateries are less able to transition to a carryout model that many casual restaurants have used to stay afloat during the pandemic.
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Yale historian Paul Freedman, author of “Ten Restaurants That Changed America," compares the current crisis facing such restaurants to Prohibition, which went into effect nationwide in 1920 and lasted until 1933. During those years, the majority of fine dining restaurants closed, unable to survive without alcohol sales. In their place rose lower-end dining options like drugstore lunch counters, coffee shops and Howard Johnson’s.