Joey Ward at the beginning of next year will “temporarily halt” operations at the chef’s Poncey-Highland restaurants Southern Belle and Georgia Boy, according to an announcement over the weekend. Starting January 1, 2021, the conjoined hospitality concepts will close down indefinitely through the “heart of the winter,” Ward wrote on Instagram.
“2020 has proven to be one hell of a year to open a restaurant,” Ward wrote. “We opened to critical and customer acclaim in November of last year and were building momentum as we moved into 2020.”
Ward and his team pivoted throughout the year as the novel coronavirus pandemic tossed curve balls toward brick-and-mortar operators, one after another, but then “old man winter has reared his ugly face, and outdoor dining has proven to be unbearable for guests, cutting our already limited dining capacity by half.”
In addition to the cold weather, rising COVID-19 cases, and other factors, Ward said January has always been a slow time for the restaurant business, rendering staying open moot. The closure — for an “undetermined length of time” — is pending variables like financial government aid, vaccine distribution, and “Georgia’s notoriously unpredictable winter weather.”
“That said, this is NOT a goodbye for good, but a farewell for now,” Ward wrote. Asking patrons to “please tip generously as our servers have a rough winter ahead as well,” Ward makes mention of the ability to get a 10-course tasting in before the spaces go dark, now through New Year’s.