Courtesy Bernie's
Bernie’s Southern Bistro, Kellie Courtney’s homey Southern-inspired restaurant known as much for its glorious backyard patio as for its fried chicken, will shutter after dinner service on Sunday, October 7.

Courtney tells the Mercury that the main culprit is—wait for it—rising rent.

“Our building is old and needs quite a few critical updates. They're pretty intense, costly updates that would require a lengthy closure with a considerable increase in rent after the updates are complete,” Courtney says. “And all of that definitely puts us out of that market.”

Bernie’s opened 20 years ago at 2904 NE Alberta in June of 1998.

Courtney says regulars can swing by to say goodbye one last time to that patio and to enjoy drinks from its opening menu, which she says the bar staff is bringing back.

Recalling the last two decades, Courtney says, “The second I flipped the open sign on June 9, 1998, within an hour we had filled our then-32 seat restaurant with supportive neighbors who were so excited we were there! And from that point on we have been going along for the ride with so many of our regulars, some not even from the neighborhood, while they've gotten engaged, graduated, had a baby, mourned deaths, celebrated birthdays and divorces, and had their wedding on our patio. All of that will be some of the toughest parts of saying goodbye.”

But it may not be the end of the road for the longtime restaurant.

“We will be on the lookout for a space or situation that can work for us,” Courtney says.

So consider Bernie’s down for now, but possibly not out. Either way, you have a month to go celebrate it and some pretty peak patio weather to do it in.