NEWPORT, Ky. — Mitchell’s Fish Market, which faced a sudden health department shutdown just over a year ago, closed permanently on the first day of 2019. The Columbus-based chain's website no longer listed its Newport location, and the leaping fish statue outside its now-caution-taped entrance lay strapped to a dolly.
“This location has closed,” read a notice in a front window. “We are grateful for the friends we have made and we look forward to service you at another one of our locations nearby.”
The seafood restaurant had been a mainstay of Newport on the Levee and opened as part of the development’s initial roster in 2001.
Natalie Hastings, director of marketing and communications for the levee, said in a written statement that the new owners, North American Properties, "are actively working on exciting new concepts for the Mitchell's space and many others as we reimagine our future."
In December 2017, however, a health inspector briefly revoked the restaurant’s food service permit after reporting its kitchen contained employees handling food with bare hands, ingredients stored at improper temperatures, unsanitary equipment and a “lack of key critical food safety concepts among food handling employees.”
At the time of the visit, the kitchen had also been without hot water for nearly a week.
The inspector taped a notice to the restaurant’s front door announcing the closure that night; when he returned later, he discovered a general manager had taped menus over the notice and continued to serve patrons.
The manager refused to accept the closure until the Campbell County Attorney’s Office and Newport police officers intervened.
"They were in clear violation, and the law was pretty clear,” Campbell County Attorney Steve Franzen said then. “I can understand the pressure to stay open on a weekend, but the public needed to be protected in this instance. They had to be shut down."
Mitchell’s Fish Market did not identify the reason for the location’s final closure.