Citing personal needs, Gospel Bird owner Eric Morris announced yesterday that he plans to close the restaurant in the next two weeks.
An exact closing date isn’t set yet for the restaurant, located in downtown New Albany, but he said in an interview he wanted to allow time for remaining staff to look for other jobs. He said a few employees will move over to Gospel Bird’s sister restaurant, Hull & High Water, located just a few blocks away.
In a social media announcement of the closing, Morris cited family and mental health needs as factors into his decision but specifically cited that his mother recently learned she has stage-four pancreatic cancer.
“We as humans simply aren’t built to try and (bear) these types of burdens, and it takes all of our strengths and attention to do so,” he wrote.
Gospel Bird, opened about three years ago, was one of several restaurants that helped downtown New Albany’s growth into a dining and entertainment district. Known for its Southern-inspired food, craft cocktail program and a unique patio with a bar built from an old Airstream camper, it was a popular spot.
That success, combined with the development of downtown New Albany, helped lead to the opening last year of Hull & High Water, a seafood restaurant owned by Morris and Garrett Petters. Hull & High Water will continue to operate, and Morris said the decision to close Gospel Bird versus the seafood restaurant was made for a few of reasons.
One, he said, is that the concept of Gospel Bird requires more focus and energy, which Morris doesn’t have in abundance these days. In addition, he feels Hull & High Water fills a specific niche, in part because of the seafood focus and in part because of the patio that helps it thrive in warm-weather months. Part of the decision, he said, came down to sheer numbers.
“Hull & High Water, in its first year compared to Gospel Bird, it just destroyed it,” Morris said. “It sucks, because without Gospel Bird, there would be no Hull & High Water. I just didn’t want to be spread too thin. It just made sense.”
Morris said in his social media announcement that Gospel Bird “has been my baby for more than (three) years from build out to this, and though I had a great time and learned so much, some things in life far outweigh the grueling task that is running two full-service restaurants.”
He thanked his customers for their support and expressed the hope to “go out with a bang.”
An announcement of the exact closing date will be given soon, Morris noted. In the meantime, operations will continue with regular hours and a full menu.
“I cannot continue to have all of my life taken away by work and miss some of the most important things that one should truly value, and I’ve paid the cost,” Morris wrote. “Regaining focus and being there for my family is my number one priority.”