Chicago’s restaurants and bars continue to struggle for survival in the face of the ongoing pandemic and its financial fallout. Restaurant owners have to contend with ongoing rent and utility payments, and are grappling with the realities of capacity restrictions in spaces with cramped dining rooms and kitchens. Meanwhile, workers face difficult decisions regarding their careers, potential exposure to COVID-19 from colleagues and patrons, and the precarious nature of this moment in the hospitality industry across the country.
Below, Eater is cataloging permanent restaurant closures in Chicago. If you know of a restaurant, bar, or other food establishment that has permanently closed since the start of the pandemic, please email [email protected] We will continue to update this post.
Lakeview/West Loop: Both Chicago locations of London-based coffee chain Department of Coffee and Social Affairs are closed and have entered liquidation, according to Big Hospitality. The Lakeview cafe, first opened in 2017, was the company’s first location outside of England.
Logan Square: Essential barbecue restaurant Fat Willy’s Rib Shack will hold its final day of service on Sunday, September 27 after nearly 20 years in business. It’s located near the Regal City North movie theater — now shut down for months because of the pandemic — so the restaurant lost the stream of hungry filmgoers that gobbled down its popular pork racks. Owner and chef Bo Fowler (Owen & Engine) made announced the closure on Facebook. Owen & Engine remains closed during the pandemic, but ownership hopes to reopen in the future.
Ravenswood: The North Side location of Mexican coffee house-style spot La Catedral Cafe and Restaurant is permanently closed after five years, according to a message in the window of the Western Avenue space. The note attributes the closure to the pandemic. The restaurant’s original Little Village location remains open.
River North: Famed deep-dish pizza chain Gino’s East and first-floor brewpub Gino’s Brewing Co. are permanently closed in the former LaSalle Power Co., an employee confirmed on the phone. The space is being liquidated. It opened at 500 N. La Salle Street in late 2014 and the team transitioned the ground level space to serve beer and host live comedy. The building was previously home to Michael Jordan’s Restaurant, the icon’s first establishment, which lasted from 1993 to 1999. Gino’s River North location was originally across the street in a now-demolished building that was once a Planet Hollywood.
River North: After nearly half a century, downtown steakhouse Lawry’s the Prime Rib will permanently close at the end of 2020. The closure is a result of a lease expiration, the pandemic, and recent civil unrest, ownership told the Tribune, and neighboring gastropub SideDood will also shutter. The restaurant has operated out of the historic McCormick Mansion on Ontario Street since it first opened in 1974.
Rogers Park: Twisted Tapas, the globally-focused spot from a co-owner of the shuttered Twist tapas cafe in Lakeview, will permanently close on Sunday, September 27, according to a Facebook post. “COVID has destroyed this industry and we are another casualty,” the post reads. “Thank you for 7 years. It has been grand.” Reservations are strongly encouraged for those who want to dine at the restaurant again before it closes.
Southport Corridor: Historic bar, bowling alley, and billiards hall Southport Lanes will permanently close after nearly a century on Sunday, September 27. Owner Steve Soble, who has operated the bar since 1991, said that the financial situation is untenable — he reopened the bar in July, but safety restrictions have left him with a side walk cafe and limited bar food menu. He and partners can’t afford to keep Southport Lanes open. “We have been around since 1902 and I’ve owned it since 1991, so I would say we’ve had a really good run,” Soble says. “It’s sad, but I hope people come in and enjoy it one last time to celebrate what we had.”
Evanston: Motorcycle-themed Italian restaurant La Macchina is permanently closed in the suburbs, Evanston Patch reported. It first opened in 2013, and was designed to make diners feel as if they had been whisked away on a trip to Rome or Capri, according to its website.
Evanston: Suburban bakery and coffee shop Unicorn Cafe is permanently closed after nearly 30 years, according to Evanston Patch. Owner Jessica Donnelly, who has operated the cafe since 2015, told the Daily Northwestern that she has grown “disappointed and disillusioned” with her municipal government as she’s watched regional and national chains like Colectivo Coffee, Starbucks, Peet’s, and others come to dominate the downtown area. She described the area as the worst place for any small business to invest and succeed due to lack of support, presumably from local officials.
North Center: Thin-crust pizza spot and neighborhood bar Big Bricks is permanently closed after eight years, according to a Facebook post. It was from the team behind shuttered Lincoln Park pizzeria Bricks, and featured a large outdoor patio. “The entire staff extends its deepest gratitude for your years of support, laughs, and friendship,” ownership wrote on social media. “We cannot thank you enough!!”
The Loop: Popular downtown hot dog stand U.B. Dogs is permanently closed after a decade, ownership wrote in a Facebook post Sunday. “While it breaks our hearts to announce our permanent closure, we wanted to take the time and properly thank our customers and family for their support over these last 10 years,” the post reads. “Unfortunately, it’s time for us to end this chapter.” The spot was known for excellent hot dogs — ranging from traditional Chicago-style to “Joey dogs” topped with fries, garlic-wasabi aioli, and Tabasco sauce — as well as great burgers and fries. The Tribune first reported this closure.
The Loop: Downtown food hall Wells Street Market will again close on Friday, September 18, just over two months after it reopened in early July with a limited vendor lineup. It was the first Chicago food hall to reopen for indoor dining during the pandemic, illuminating the significant challenge an airborne virus poses in large, communal dining and drinking spaces. Wells Street first opened in 2018, a part of Chicago’s food hall boom ushered in by Revival Food Hall in the Loop.
Wrigleyville: Beloved Wisconsin and Minnesota-friendly sports bar Redmond’s Ale House served its last beers Saturday during the first Viking’s game of the season before closing permanently, according to a Facebook post. “There are not enough words to express all the memories that have happened within our walls or how much we will truly miss all of you,” the post reads. “Thank you for your patronage. Thank you for your support. Just thank you for being a part of Redmond’s.” A rental listing for the space is currently available online. For local sports bar patrons, the loss is yet another blow in a year of heartbreaking closures.
Andersonville: Chef Jennifer Kim, Eater Chicago’s Chef of the Year in 2018, is permanently closing her ambitious restaurant Passerotto after three years. Kim’s thoughtful and eclectic menu drew connections between Korean and Italian cuisine, resulting in Michelin Bib Gourmand recognition and a James Beard Best New Restaurant nomination in 2019. A vocal advocate for change in the hospitality industry — notoriously fraught with sexism, racism, and other forms of abuse and marginalization — Kim says she continues to ponder and pursue “a truly equitable, decentralized, community-centered restaurant/hospitality model.”
Gold Coast: Downtown steakhouse the Grill on the Alley, known for solid classics like shrimp cocktail, steak tartare, and Key lime pie, is permanently closed on Michigan Avenue, according to a July WARN report (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act). The Grill on the Alley chain, which dates back to 1984, operates additional restaurants in California, Texas, and Florida.
Lakeview: A sign in the window at Seattle-style spot Glaze Teriyaki Grill, 3112 N. Broadway, reads “Sorry we’re closed. Currently moving location…” The restaurant is from a New York City-based chain with additional locations in San Francisco. It first opened in Chicago in 2015.
The Loop: Downtown staple Ronny’s Original Chicago Steakhouse — formerly Ronny’s Steak Palace — is permanently closed inside the Thompson Center after 57 years. The last of the “cheap steak” restaurants, Ronny’s was a destination for those seeking an affordable meal: diners could expect an 8-ounce steak, salad, garlic toast, and baked potato for $9.99. A team of investors first opened the restaurant in 1963.
Wicker Park: A new owner at infamous late-night fixture Flat Iron plans to reconcept the Milwaukee Avenue spot as a music venue, according to Block Club Chicago. Bourbon on Division owner Jun Lin bought the business in late August, much to the dismay of some longtime staffers who had tried to purchase Flat Iron several times. They feel former owner Nick Novich never seriously considered selling it to them. The space previously housed live music venue the Note, which closed in 2008.
Willow Springs: Suburban Italian restaurant Greco’s is permanently closed after 30 years, according to a Facebook post. “It is never easy to say goodbye, and it is especially difficult when there can be no hugs, fond farewells, or meals shared” co-owners Carmalee Greco Kipnis and Michele Greco write. “For this lack of closure, we are deeply sorry. We are grateful, however, to have served you and come to know you.”
Lakeview: “For lease” signs hang in the window of Indian restaurant Khyber Pass’ Halsted Street spot, and its website now only lists an Oak Park location. The Lakeview restaurant first opened in 2015, and offered live entertainment on weekends.
South Loop: Badger-friendly sports bar Kroll’s South Loop will permanently close its doors at the end of the summer season after 15 years in business, ownership wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. “Unfortunately, the events of 2020 and the restrictions placed on our business have now become too much for us to overcome,” the post reads. “The burden of operating under the current conditions is too great and, come fall, will be impossible to continue under the current indoor capacity restrictions of 50 patrons.”
West Town: In another dosa downer, Art of Dosa is going on hiatus. The restaurant has operated as a deliver-only ghost kitchen, but in December 2019 it opened its first public-facing location, inside Revival Food Hall in the Loop. Now, operations will cease after being unexpectedly forced from their West Town kitchen space by their landlord. They plan on reopened back at Revival Food Hall, but there’s no date.
Arlington Heights: Family-owned suburban stalwart Thai Little Home permanently closed in April after more than 40 years so its owners could retire, according to a Facebook post. Fans poured into the comments section to share memories four decades of memories at the restaurant, and even probing for recipes.
Around Town: International grab-and-go sandwich chain Pret a Manger, a particular favorite among many office workers who once grabbed lunch downtown, has closed nearly all its Chicago locations due to the coronavirus pandemic. A University of Chicago shop remains as the last local vestige of the U.K.-based company. The company has seen an 87 percent drop in sales, Restaurant Business Online reported in late July.
Lincoln Park: The Armitage and Sheffield location of Le Pain Quotidien is closed and has big “for lease” signs hanging in its windows. In May, the struggling bakery and cafe chain sold all of its 98 U.S. locations to New York-based company Aurify for $3 million. At the time, Aurify officials said they planned to reopen at least 35 locations around the country.
South Loop: Italian restaurant Giglio’s State Street Tavern now bears a “for lease” sign in the window of its State Street location. Its parent company, Hitz Restaurant Group, had filed for bankruptcy on February, according to Restaurant Hospitality. In June, a federal court ruled that the restaurant only owes 75 percent of its rent during the pandemic due to a Force Majeure, or “Act of God.” Ownership has not responded to a request for more information.
Uptown: 3 Squares Diner, a comfort food spot inside Uptown’s historic Lawrence House, is permanently closed “due to the intense covid regulations,” ownership wrote in an email. Opened in 2018, it was from the folks behind popular Logan Square breakfast restaurant Jam. The team has another project in the works, so stay tuned for updates.
Tinley Park: Well-regarded south suburban seafood restaurant and oyster bar Tin Fish is permanently closed due to COVID-19 after nearly 18 years, according to the Tribune. The space doesn’t have a patio and while the team tried carryout, seafood doesn’t always travel well, partner Curtis Wierbicki told the Trib. Kitchen workers were concerned about infecting older members of their families. When two regulars reported positive tests, the partners gathered staff and told them the restaurant was closing. Wierbicki and business partner Colin Turner first opened the restaurant in 2002.
Chatham: Harold’s Chicken Shack #55 — the franchise location considered by many to be the best Harold’s in Chicago (the same spot made famous by Chance the Rapper) — permanently closed on July 31, the Tribune reported. Owner Percy Billings, 78, first opened on 87th Street at the Dan Ryan Expressway in 1992. He told the Trib that he tried to work with his landlords, but after they raised his rent by more than 40 percent and wanted him to sign a five-year lease, he reluctantly closed the restaurant. Billings also owns two food trucks, which he used to dispatch downtown, but a lack of workers and tourist in the area means there aren’t enough customers to keep the trucks running. He’s now focusing his attention on his last remaining Harold’s location, the Express #55, located at a Chatham gas station. Harold’s fried chicken with mild sauce is one of Chicago’s most iconic dishes. The sauce — a specialty now of mythic proportion — is born of the city’s South Side, imbuing crisp chicken with a sweet and tangy boost that’s kept locals and celebrities coming back for more.
River North: ‘90s-era family dining destination Rainforest Cafe, perched on the corner of Ohio and Clark streets for 23 years, is permanently closed, according to Block Club Chicago and multiple other media reports. Known for luring kids (and their parents) with animatronic and live animals, aquariums, and Cha! Cha!, the giant green frog luxuriating above the entrance, Rainforest Cafe could be seen as a precursor to the recent (pre-pandemic) trend of “experiential” dining. The shutter comes a year earlier than planned due to the economic ramifications of the pandemic, property owner Sean Conlon told Block Club. The chain closed its longtime Woodfield Mall location on January 1 when its lease expired in suburban Schaumburg.
South Loop: Happy Chinese Kitchen on Cermak Road is listed as permanently closed on both Google and Yelp, and its phone number has been disconnected. The restaurant first opened in 2015.
The Loop: A for-lease sign hangs in the window of an emptied Taco Burrito King space at 405 S. Wells Street and its phone number has been disconnected, though the location is still listed as “temporarily closed” on the local chain’s website. Ownership has not yet responded to a request for more information. The company operates a dozen more city and suburban restaurants.
West Loop: Longtime West Loop French restaurant La Sardine is permanently closed after nearly 22 years. Partner and executive chef Oliver Poilevey announced the closure in an Instagram post on August 14. Though Poilevey originally thought he’d be able to keep the restaurant open, a broken air conditioner and the $80,000 bill it incurred spelled the end of the line, he told the Tribune. Poilevey also operates Bucktown restaurant Le Bouchon, where he also owns the building.
Evanston: Essential suburban restaurant and wine bar the Stained Glass & the Cellar closed Saturday after more than two decades, ownership announced in a Facebook post. The restaurant first opened in 1999. “We want to thank all our guests and especially our regulars who have supported us for the last 20 years,” the post reads. “The wonderful people we have met and memories we have made will stay with us for the years to come.”
Albany Park: Peruvian steak and seafood spot Ay Ay Picante is permanently closed, according to the restaurant’s manager. Founded in 2007, the restaurant featured live Andean flute music and drew culinary inspiration from various waves of immigrants to Peru, from the Spanish to the Chinese. It was featured on Chicago PBS show Check Please! in 2013.
River North: Playful mid-day destination Brunch from Big Onion Hospitality (Fatpour Tap Works) permanently closed in June after 10 years due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement on the restaurant’s website. “This is NOT the storybook ending we had in mind — and a decision made only after the elimination of all other possibilities,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, however, the 3-month state-mandated closure and ensuing uncertainty that now clouds the changing landscape of our industry left us no path to survival.”
South Loop: South Side coffee chain Bridgeport Coffee Company has permanently closed its location inside the Roosevelt Collection shopping center, an employee confirmed in a phone call. A post made last month in the Hello South Loop Facebook group includes photos of the empty space at Delano Court West. The company also closed its Jackson Boulevard location in June, but shops in Bridgeport and Hyde Park remain open.
Streeterville: The downtown outpost of Japanese chain and essential Chicago ramen shop Ramen Misoya has permanently closed its Ohio Street location due to the economic strain of the pandemic, according to a Facebook post. “We loved our time serving in Chicago,” the post reads. “However, due to a loss of business caused by the COVID-19 shutdown, we can no longer justify continuing operations at this time.” It first opened in December 2015. The chain’s suburban Mount Prospect location is still open.
West Town: Bar Biscay, the ultra-cool French-inspired costal Spanish brasserie from the owners of Mfk that became both a neighborhood hotspot and critical darling during its two-and-a-half year run, is permanently closed according to a statement posted to Facebook on Friday. The closure was first reported by the Tribune. Bar Biscay and Mfk chef Alisha Elenz has been named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Rising Star Chef and is still in the running to win the title this year.
During the pandemic shutdown, Bar Biscay’s owners pivoted toward retail offerings and carryout meals, dubbing the space “Bodega Biscay,” and offering delivery grocery items including dairy products, produce, rice, pasta, and alcohol. “This pandemic has thrown a harsh light on truths we all pretend to accept but seldom act upon — that the future is unknown, that nothing lasts forever,” co-owners write on Facebook. “Let’s try to salvage some good from this. Let’s take better care of each other, of our planet, of ourselves. We only get this one go around, friends.”
Gold Coast: Walton Street Kitchen & Bar, the new American bistro with an intimate downstairs bar from Chicago’s Ballyhoo Hospitality (Gemini), has been erased from the group’s website and is listed as permanently closed on Google. The restaurant first opened in 2018. Ownership has ignored repeated inquiries made to confirm the closure.
River North: A for-lease sign is posted outside Wells Street’s Ironside Bar and Galley, indicating the end of a four-year run for the stylish, seafood-focused sports bar. It first opened in 2016 inside the former Cyrano’s Farm Kitchen space.
River North: Brazilian churrascaria ZED451 has locked down its website and deactivated all social media platforms. A recorded phone message directs callers to the now-password protected website. The group-friendly spot originated in suburban Schaumburg, and operated a location in Boca Raton, Florida that closed in 2011.
South Loop: Black-owned martini bar and lounge Tantrum is permanently closed after 12 years due to the financial ramifications of COVID-19, according to a June 26 Instagram post. “Tantrum meant a lot to many people,” the post reads. “For the more seasoned party goers, when we first opened it was the spot you just chilled at and it became your ‘Black Neighborhood Cheers.’ For those that are in their late 20s to mid 30s, we were your first party spot, some couldn’t wait to turn 21 to go to Tantrum.” Co-owners Shun D. and John McClendon promise a “new and bigger Tantrum in the near future.” The pair also own sports bar and dance club Renaissance Bronzeville.
La Grange: Northern Italian restaurant La Buona Vita permanently closed in late March after six years in suburban La Grange, according to the Tribune. Owner Jim Barron cited the pandemic as the cause of the closure.
Lincoln Park: Modern Indian restaurant Grand Trunk Road bears a big red sticker on its door that says it is permanently closed. The restaurant first opened in December 2018 in the former Knife & Tine space on Fullerton Avenue and featured a popular and unique brunch.
River North: Bottled Blonde, the infamous late-night restaurant and bar that battled the city over issues including security, sanitation, and noise — and drew national ire for a controversial dress code that many described as a racist attempt to exclude Black men from the venue — is permanently closed after five years of turmoil. A worker outside the restaurant said Tuesday morning that closure is due to the pandemic and ongoing legal fight with the city, and a Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) spokesperson confirmed that Bottled Blonde ownership has surrendered its business license.
River North: Bro-friendly party bar Concrete Cowboy is permanently closed due to legal action brought by the city of Chicago, according to CBS Chicago. The Franklin Street venue had a long history of noise and license violations, as well as overcrowding and fights involving customers and staff, a BACP spokesperson told reporters. The Texas import first opened in 2017.
The Loop: The Dearborn Street location for Texas-based chain Jason’s Deli is permanently closed, according to its website. A South Loop location remains open.
Arlington Heights: Suburban restaurant Rack House Kitchen and Tavern is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic after eight years, according to an announcement Sunday on Facebook. “It is with a heavy heart that we have to announce due to our struggle through COVID-19, Rack House is permanently closing its doors,” the post reads.
Portage Park: Longtime Mexican spot El Gordo Restaurant permanently closed on July 5 after nearly three decades in business, according to a Facebook post. “Due to the COVID-19 crisis and the hardships it has brought around the nation we are sad to inform you that as of July 5th, 2020 we have permanently decided to close our doors to the community,” the post reads. “It has been a pleasure serving the people for the last 28 years.” Shocked and dismayed, fans begged them to reconsider and offered to set up a GoFundMe in an effort to forestall the closure.
River North: Midwestern comfort food restaurant and tavern Farmhouse is permanently closed after nearly a decade in business, ownership announced in a Facebook post Monday. “[The] worst part of closing is losing all the talented team who made it what it was,” co-owner Ferdia Doherty writes in an email to Eater. The popular restaurant — known for an expansive beer list, locally sourced ingredients, and transcendent cheese curds — first opened in 2011 and went on to spawn a second location in suburban Evanston, along with “little sister” spot Farm Bar, with locations in Lakeview and Edgewater. All three remaining restaurants are currently open, and the group recently began offering food at Montrose Harbor’s Chicago Corinthians Yacht Club. “To be honest it’s been a struggle but we remain optimistic and, like all of our friends in the industry, we want to get back to some sense of normality but it will be a changed environment for sure,” Doherty writes.
South Loop: Signage for sports bar chain Bulldog Ale House has been removed from the space at 901 S. State Street and has been replaced by a banner announcing a new location for Lombard-based breakfast mini-chain Honey Berry Pancakes and Cafe. The South Loop location has been wiped from the Bulldog website, and a call to the restaurant Tuesday went unanswered.
Streeterville: The owner of Cité, the circular 70th-floor fine dining restaurant atop Lake Point Tower, plans to close the decades-old establishment and is marketing the space “to restaurant groups and wealthy individuals interested in converting it to a penthouse condo overlooking Lake Michigan,” according to the Tribune. The restaurant has reopened after Illinois’s stay-at-home order, and will reportedly continue operations until the space is sold.
Ukrainian Village: 47-year-old Mexican restaurant Tecalitlan will permanently close its Chicago Avenue restaurant on August 23 with plans to reopen in a new space, ownership wrote in a Facebook post Friday. The restaurant’s landlord sold the building unexpectedly two weeks ago, necessitating the move. “We cherish and hold dear to our hearts all the wonderful memories and friends we’ve made along the years,” the post reads. “We love you all and cannot wait to make new memories at our new location.” They haven’t settled on a specific site for the new location yet, according to co-owner Karla Garcia, but plan to find a pace within a five-minute drive or ten-minute walk from the original — ideally with a patio. “We were born and raised in West Town and we want to stay in the area,” Garcia says, adding that longtime customers have called non-stop since the move was announced. She says she’s touched by the outpouring of support: “We knew we meant a lot, but I had no idea how much Tecalitlan meant to customers and the neighbors.”
Wrigleyville: Storied North Side fixture Guthries Tavern will permanently close on Thursday after 34 years at 1300 W. Addison Street, ownership wrote in a Facebook post Monday. The announcement came on the same day that Chicago officials declared the city will once again shut down bars in the face of rising COVID-19 cases. On Facebook, the tavern’s owners and staff made no bones about the cause the closure: “With the new restrictions set today for bars and the ongoing COVID restrictions, we don’t see a way we can survive,” the post reads.
Bucktown: Thai steamed bun and snack spot the Sala Pao Shop (from the owners of Sticky Rice) closes Wednesday “until further notice,” according to an official Instagram post. It opened in October 2018 at the CTA’s Western Blue Line Station.
Lincoln Square: Family-owned hot dog, burger, and cheese fries business Chubby Weiners is permanently closed after 15 years, according to a July 2 Facebook post. “We want thank our committed staff, our loyal customers and extend more thanks to everyone who has supported Chubby Wieners, Chubby Wieners Food Trucks, and our Festival Family over the years,” ownership writes. “Thank you Lincoln Square for being Home, WE WILL MISS YOU!”
River North: Longtime French favorite Kiki’s Bistro is listed as permanently closed on OpenTable and has disconnected its phone number. However, ownership contends they severed ties with OpenTable to save money. They hope to reopen once they figure out a viable financial plan, according to an email sent by ownership.
South Loop: Popular upscale sports bar the Scout held a “last dance” on July 8 before it permanently closed, announced in a Facebook post. The venue first opened in 2011, according to Sloopin, and hosted the Blackhawks Stanley Cup party in 2013.
West Loop: Globally-influenced new American restaurant Eden will permanently close after dinner service Saturday, according to rep. “While we recently reopened our doors to an immensely positive response, the larger economic impact resulting from the coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible for us to sustain operations,” the announcement reads. The restaurant opened on Lake Street in 2017.
Mount Prospect: Mediterranean restaurant Greek Feast has permanently closed one its suburban restaurant on Kensington Road, ownership wrote on the business’s website. The restaurant’s Northbrook location is open for dine in, carryout, and catering.
Andersonville: Modern Mexican spot Octavio Cantina & Kitchen is shedding its old identity and remerging as the Bird Cage, an inclusive bar, restaurant, and performance space for queer communities, according to owner Martin Cournane (Lady Gregory’s, Wilde). A video posted to Facebook on June 28 introduced the new name and approach, promising food, cocktails, burlesque, drag stars, show tunes, and more.
Boystown: Little Jim’s Tavern, the oldest gay bar in Boystown and second-oldest in all of Chicago, served its last drink on July 2, Block Club Chicago reported. First opened in 1975, the bar was known as a space where all were welcome: local LGBTQ activist Rick Garcia told reporters that the tavern was “the first and only bar on Halsted Street to be fully integrated.” Ownership is in negotiations to sell Little Jim’s to nearby LGBTQ center Howard Brown Health for a new clinic. LGBTQ bars are on the decline nationwide, according to a 2019 study — a trend that will likely be exacerbated by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bucktown: Vienna Beef closed its factory store and cafe on Sunday after nearly 50 years at the corner of Damen and Fullerton. The company is moving its headquarters from the North Side to the Near West Side’s Kinzie Industrial Corridor. Fans of the cafe, which was considered by many to be a local landmark, can still snag a sausage (or several) at its Morgan Street location on the South Side.
Lincoln Park: Rickshaw Republic, Chicago’s only Indonesian restaurant, is permanently closed after eight years, according to owner Oscar Setiawan. In a video posted to Facebook on Friday, Setiawan expressed appreciation for local support over the years. “We decided to end on a high note where we’re all happy to move on in spite of this pandemic,” he says. “We love you guys and we thank you for everything.”
Heart of Chicago: Longtime neighborhood Italian restaurant La Fontanella is closed and its owners are retiring after 34 years in business, according to Block Club Chicago. Husband-and-wife team Gianfranco “Franco” and Maria Gamberale purchased the restaurant after closing their first establishment, Gianfranco, in 1986. They’ve now sold the building that housed the restaurant on the corner of Oakley Avenue and 24th Street.
South Loop: South Coast Sushi, an outpost of the popular Bucktown sushi spot, is permanently closed after 13 years, ownership wrote on the restaurant’s website. The Damen Avenue restaurant and suburban Evanston branch are both still open for carryout and delivery.
Ukrainian Village: Contemporary neighborhood diner Bite Cafe is permanently closed after 25 years, according to the Tribune. It was the first project from 16” On Center hospitality group’s Bruce Finkelman (Dusek’s, Longman & Eagle), who plans to reconcieve the space as Pizza Friendly Pizza, a carryout-focused operation. He’s partnered with Noah Sandoval, owner of Michelin-starred Oriole and Kumiko/Kikko.
Pilsen: Two-year-old neighborhood coffee shop and gathering place Step Down Cafe is permanently closed, according to Block Club Chicago. Owner Leonel Rodriguez detailed the decision in a social media post, writing that the combination of the pandemic and a difficult financial position ultimately made it impossible to reopen. Step Down was also the employer of barista Kenneth “Kenny” Paterimos, a 23-year-old Chicago man fatally stabbed in February outside West Down dive Richard’s Bar. Thomas Tansey, Paterimos’s alleged killer, has been charged with second-degree murder.
South Loop: Chinese-inspired Cajun restaurant Asian Cajun PLUS is permanently closed and has vacated its former State Street space. A photo of new signage posted to the Hello South Loop Facebook page indicates it’ll be shortly taken over by the Bureau Bar, a University Village bar and restaurant.
Uptown: Raucous late-night bar Nick’s Uptown is permanently closed, according to an employee. Originally called Nick’s on Wilson, the bar closed in 2011, but was resurrected under a newish name six years later. Fans adored it for its casual atmosphere and affable staff. It first opened in 2001, according to the Chicago Bar Project.
West Loop: Bad Hunter, the acclaimed vegetable-friendly restaurant downtown restaurant from Heisler Hospitality, will not reopen, according to its owners. The popular spot bounced back after a devastating fire in 2018 shuttered the Randolph Restaurant Row space for seven months, but the group didn’t think it could survive on limited indoor dining alone. It first opened in 2016.
West Loop: Michelin-starred downtown landmark Blackbird is permanently closed after more than 20 years as one of the city’s most influential and treasured restaurants. Saddled with a tiny kitchen and cramped dining room, the restaurant was not designed for social distancing. Beloved by many in and outside the hospitality industry, the pioneering restaurant helmed by decorated chef Paul Kahan (One Off Hospitality Group) featured contemporary American cuisine with French influences in an upscale yet modern space. It was a Michelin-starred restaurant since 2011.
Wicker Park: World-famous pizzeria Bonci has closed one of its Chicago locations. The specialty pizzeria, which sells pizza al taglio, closed its Wicker Park location in April, says Rick Tasman, who’s in charge of Bonci’s American operations. Tasman says they needed to consolidate operations to one location during the pandemic. They couldn’t survive. Bonci’s West Loop location continues to be open for takeout, delivery, and patio seating. From chef Gabriele Bonci, the pizza originated in Rome with unique topping combos not seen anywhere else in America.
Wicker Park: French Riviera-inspired bistro Cafe Cancale, also from Kahan and One Off Hospitality, will not reopen at Wicker Park’s six-corner intersection. The restaurant opened in May 2019 in the space formerly occupied by Publican Anker, another One Off establishment that closed months earlier.
Norridge: Family-owned suburban Italian restaurant Basilico is permanently closed after 50 years, owners wrote in a Facebook post on May 7. In the comments, fans mourned, posted photos, and recounted memories of engagement dinners, birthday celebrations, wedding parties, and other momentous occasions.
Irving Park: Neighborhood sports bar and grill Pitchfork Food and Saloon have permanently closed the restaurant, according to a Facebook post on June 9. “We are so honored to have had the pleasure of serving this neighborhood for 10+ years,” the post reads. “In light of recent events, we have come to the difficult decision of closing our doors as Pitchfork Food and Saloon.” It first opened in 2009.
River North: Breakfast and brunch chain Yolk has permanently closed its Wells Street location in River North, reps wrote in a Facebook post on June 5. “After 10 years at this location, the impact of COVID19 was too much to overcome,” it reads. The chain, originally founded in South Loop in 2006, now operates eight Chicago locations, as well as restaurants in Indiana, Florida, and Texas.
The Loop: South Side coffee shop Bridgeport Coffee Company will not reopen its Jackson Boulevard outpost in the Loop, according to a June 12 news release. “The economics of the location were simply unsustainable going forward, due to circumstances beyond our or anyone’s control…” the release reads. The closure will not affect the three remaining locations in Bridgeport, Hyde Park, and South Loop.
Wicker Park: Vegetarian-friendly restaurant Clever Rabbit is permanently closed and its website, phone number, and social media are no longer active. The restaurant opened on Division Street in 2017 with upscale vegetable-focused dishes and creative cocktails.
Highland Park: Suburban French restaurant Chez Benoit Bistro is permanently closed, ownership wrote in a Facebook post on May 30. “It’s with great sadness that we announce that Chez Benoit will not reopen,” the post reads. The restaurant opened in early 2019.
Andersonville: Beloved hot dog destination Hot G Dog is closed at least for the duration of 2020, ownership wrote in a Facebook post on June 9. “We are deciding on our next move due to our lease ending and not being able to renew,” the post reads. It also explains that the pandemic had a significant impact on sales to the point that the business was no longer sustainable. Brothers Octavio and Juan Carlos Garcia, former line cooks at now-shuttered hot dog sensation Hot Doug’s, opened Hot G Dog in 2015.
Belmont Terrace: Spanish-style wine bar Tinto y Tapas will not reopen, ownership wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post and is marked closed on Yelp. The restaurant first opened in 2019.
Lakeview: Peruvian BYOB restaurant Machu Picchu has permanently closed, according to a now-deleted Facebook post and Yelp listing. Brothers Javier and Marco Alday took over the establishment in 2008 and was known as a local destination for large groups.
Little Italy: Popular local Italian chain Davanti Enoteca has permanently closed its Taylor Street restaurant, according to a rep. The restaurant first opened in 2010 and the Little Italy location in particular accrued a devoted fanbase. The chain still operates a suburban Western Springs restaurant, as well as a California location.
Little Italy: Francesca’s On Taylor, another Italian spot from the owner behind Davanti, is also permanently closed and has been removed from the company’s website. Between Illinois and North Carolina, the Mia Francesca chain operates seventeen locations.
Old Town: New England-style restaurant Two Lights Seafood & Oyster will not reopen, ownership wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday. They also promise “a fresh, new concept” in the foreseeable future. Two lights first opened in 2018 and was considered a seafood destination in the city.
River North: Nine-year-old burger and drinking spot 25 Degrees is permanently closed, according to a June 9 Facebook post. “Due to the current situations, it is with a heavy heart that we announce the closing of 25 Degrees,” it reads. “It has been nothing but a pleasure to serve you all over the past nine years.” Owners closed a Wicker Park outpost after 10 months in 2016.
River North: Irish pub the Pepper Canister announced in a Facebook post Monday that it won’t reopen. Legions of fans have poured into the comments section to share memories, photos, and well-wishes with owners and staff. It was first opened in 2003, according to the Sun-Times.
Streeterville: Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises announced on June 5 that Mity Nice Bar & Grill and Foodlife will not reopen after 27 years in busines. LEYE president R.J. Melman says the leases were about to expire, and the restaurants’s locations aren’t well-suited to social distancing.
Oak Park: Suburban Italian sister spots La Bella Pasteria and La Bella the Bar are permanently closed after eight years, ownership wrote in a sign posted to the restaurant doors. “At this time there are no plans to reopen,” it reads.
Gold Coast: Neighborhood pub Pippin’s Tavern is permanently closed, and is stripped of its signage and fixtures at its Rush Street location. The bar first opened in the early 1970s, according to its website. A popular dive for the after-work crowd, downtown Chicago has one fewer bar that doesn’t specialize in fancy cocktails.
Lakeview: Seafood haven Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market is permanently closed, owner Glenn Fahlstrom announced last week in a Facebook post. “The new restaurant model is asking owners to put employees in harms way so that their business can possibly survive,” the post reads. “That is an ‘acceptable risk’ I cannot take… It was hard enough when the playing field was supposedly level, now it is tilted beyond recognition.” The combination restaurant and retail spot first opened in 2014.
Noble Square: Fast-casual neighborhood cafe Nini’s Deli is permanently closed after crowds gathered over the weekend to protest a series of racist, Islamophobic, and homophobic social media posts made by its owners that equated BLM to a terrorist group. Former partners including Nike, Intelligentsia Coffee, Bang Bang Pies, and Cash Drop all severed ties with owners and brothers Juan “Juany” and José Riesco.
North Center: Vegan pizzeria Chicago House Of ‘Za will permanently close on June 20, owners wrote in an Instagram post in late May. “With the current pandemic, as well as the enormous cost of operating a business in Chicago we are unable to stay open for business any longer,” the post reads. In the meantime, restaurant is selling slices, as well as wine and beer. It first opened in March 2019.
Norwood Park: Latin American restaurant Congas will not reopen after the pandemic after five years in business, ownership wrote in an Facebook post late last week. “COVID-19 made me realize the most important things in life,” the post reads. “Having this time off from the restaurant made me appreciate more my time with my family.”
Norwood Park: Nine-year-old neighborhood spot Mo Dailey’s Pub & Grille is permanently closed, owners wrote in a Facebook post on June 7. The space is now under new ownership. “We do believe the new owners will be a great fit in this space an I look forward to assisting them in their launch in the near future,” the post reads.
Humboldt Park: Brendan Sodikoff of Hogsalt Hospitality (Au Cheval, Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf) announced that he will not reopen 21-year-old bar California Clipper or its neighboring coffee shop, C.C. Ferns on May 28. Hogsalt took over the bar in 2014, brought in a cocktail menu and made minor changes to the former speakeasy, which has history dating back to 1937. However, as Block Club Chicago reports, the Clipper’s landlord, Gino Battaglia, disagrees with Sodikoff’s assessment. Battaglia tells Eater Chicago that he’s had a lot of interest in the space and that he was willing to provide relief to Hogsalt, but its attorneys didn’t furnish financial information that was requested.
Pilsen: Family-owned Taqueria Sabor y Sazon closed in late May after seven years in business, Block Club Chicago reported. Husband-and-wife team Jesus Quiroz and Mercedes Cruz told reporters that school closures, event cancelations, and accumulating expenses from rent, bills and business taxes ultimately forced the closure. Supporters have raised more than $4,000 for the family on GoFundMe.
River North: Monty’s Tap, the bar from Four Corners hospitality group formerly known as the Motel Bar, is permanently closed and has been removed from the company’s website. Its own site has also been taken down. The group took over the original Motel Bar and remodeled the space in 2018 before renaming the business.
The Loop: Downtown Italian stalwart Trattoria No. 10 is permanently closed after 30 years, according to a listing on OpenTable. Ownership has not responded to a request for more information. The restaurant, known for classical Italian dishes, was especially popular among theater-goers. Supporters raised more than $17,000 in a GoFundMe to help staff.
Glenview: Mesa Urbana Mexican Fusion’s suburban location is permanently closed after four years, ownership wrote in a Facebook post Monday. Owners and brothers Baligh and Moe Abu-Taleb also own a new Mesa Urbana in Portage Park, as well as Latin American-influenced Lincoln Park restaurant Mundano.
Schaumburg: Denver-based dining and entertainment chain Punch Bowl Social has permanently closed a suburban outpost, a rep confirmed in an email. In a statement, founder and CEO Robert Thompson writes that Punch Bowl was “unable to reach satisfactory new terms to move forward” with its Schaumburg landlord. Thompson also writes that the company plans to reopen the West Loop location, which debuted in 2018. Majority investor Cracker Barrel announced in March that it would not continue to invest in Punch Bowl Social, according to Restaurant Business Online, and lenders said they planned to foreclose on the chain’s assets.
Bucktown: Friendly all-day restaurant Mable’s Table permanently closed on May 17, according to an official Facebook post. “This uncertain time and the Covid-19 pandemic we are all living through has decimated many a friend’s small business and has hurt ours as well,” ownership writes. The spot, inspired by the owner’s mother’s cooking, first opened in 2017.
Gold Coast: Former Bears coach and player Mike Ditka’s longtime downtown Chicago restaurant is permanently closed, reps announced in a Facebook post on May 18. “We have made the extremely difficult decision to close our Chicago restaurant due to the economic impact of COVID-19 and the short term left on our lease,” it reads. The restaurant served steaks and was packed with football memorabilia. The Chestnut Street location has teetered on the edge for some time — last year, Ditka told reporters that the restaurant’s run was “over.” Meanwhile, the company’s vice president of operations said that they were continuing to negotiate with the building’s owners on a lease extension and renovations while also looking for a new location. Other Ditka’s restaurant group locations in suburban Oakbrook Terrace, Westmont, and Pittsburgh will remain open.
Lakeview: Milwaukee-based chain Stone Creek Coffee won’t reopen its sole Chicago cafe, ownership wrote in a newsletter May 6. “In light of the current landscape, and the focus on digging out of the red while planning for survival into the future, we have decided not to continue on with this cafe,” it reads. The company plans to keep all of its Wisconsin cafes.
Lincoln Park: Vietnamese restaurant Simply It closed on April 30 after 14 years as a community anchor, Block Club Chicago reported. Profit margins were slim before the pandemic, owner Tuan Nguyen told reporters, so COVID-19’s economic ramifications made reopening impossible.
Logan Square/Avondale: Crown Liquors Taproom, a well-known Chicago packaged goods store, won’t reopen after the pandemic, Block Club Chicago reported on April 24. It is unclear whether or not the closure is related to COVID-19. Crown Liquors’s precise age is also unknown, though a previous owner told reporters in 2015 that it dates back to the end of prohibition.
Noble Square: BYOB Cuban restaurant Habana Libre is permanently closed, ownership told Eater Chicago. First opened in 2007, the spot gained popularity for its pan lechón, served with rice, beans, and sweet plantains, and a laid-back atmosphere.
River North: Katana, the pricey Japanese restaurant that arrived in Chicago three years ago, will not reopen its doors, a spokesperson confirmed to Eater Chicago in May. It was owned by Innovative Dining Group, a LA-based company that continues to offers delivery and takeout at its West Hollywood location. The restaurant’s opening came with much fanfare in 2017, as Hollywood celebrities frequented the West Coast location, and Chicago’s star chasers hoped to see that translate in the Midwest. Local athletes and actors would hang out at the restaurant, which specialized in grilled meats and veggies cooked on robatayaki. There was also a special sushi counter. This leaves a vacancy at a pricey piece of River North real estate next to the House of Blues and in the shadows of the iconic Marina City Towers.
River North: Nacional 27, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’s spot for Latin food, drinks, and dancing, permanently closed on March 1 after more than two decades, reps wrote on its website. The hospitality group opened up a Tallboy Taco spot inside the restaurant in 2014.
The Loop/West Loop: 33-year-old chain Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery is closing all 55 plus locations, including three in Chicago as of May 19. “Current market conditions attributed to COVID-19 and shelter-in-place policies have decimated company revenues,” a statement on the company’s website reads. The California-based company also had shops in Washington.
Wicker Park: Beer bar Links Taproom won’t reopen after the pandemic in the Milwaukee Avenue location where its operated for six years, according to a Facebook post on April 23. Ownership wrote that the business will still pop up occasionally around Chicago: “This is not the end for us, it is simply a new beginning,” the post reads. “Unfortunately, with the current situation, we cannot say for certain when or where we will see you again, but, rest assured, we WILL see you all again.”
Wicker Park: Popular Southern restaurant the Delta, which served unusual hits like Mississippi red hot and gym shoe tamales, is permanently closed, owner Eldridge Williams told Eater Chicago on May 15. Williams filed a lawsuit with the Cook County circuit court on May 8 accusing one of his two investors of stealing $154,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program loan and Economic Injury Disaster loan awarded to the restaurant. The Delta opened in 2017 as one of the few Black-owned bars on Chicago’s North Side.
Update: The Delta has since reopened after Williams and the investor in question reconciled and hashed out the restaurant’s finances.
Bowmanville: Barbecue spot Baobab BBQ, which served ribs, rib tips, and brisket, is closed after two years. The restaurant added a South African touch to American barbecue, borrowing from several regions. Chef Andrew Dunlop made the announcement via Facebook on May 4.
Bucktown: Luella’s Gospel Bird, chef Darnell Reed’s fried chicken restaurant in Bucktown, is closed permanently. The restaurant relied in large part on catering orders, but the pandemic lead to mass cancelations and Reed decided to close his second restaurant. His first, Luella’s Southern Kitchen in Lincoln Square, continues to offer carryout and is open.
Bucktown: Lauded chef Mindy Segal told Eater Chicago on April 29 that she’d permanently closed her popular restaurant Mindy’s Hot Chocolate after 15 years. Segal already had plans to close the restaurant by the end of May before the COVID-19 pandemic, but mandated dining room closures expedited the process. She’s transitioning toward converting the space into Mindy’s Bakery selling bagels, coffee, hot chocolate, and pantry items.
Bucktown/Lincoln Park: Toast, a much-loved 24-year-old breakfast and brunch restaurant with two Chicago locations, is permanently closed due to the impact of the coronavirus, according to owner Jeanne Roeser. She announced the closures on April 22.
Edgewater: The owners of Income Tax, a popular neighborhood restaurant and wine bar, announced it would not reopen in a Facebook post on May 9. The North Side restaurant managed to deliver an adventurous menu without alienating residents. Owners say they’ll continue to sell alcohol to go while thinning inventory.
Hyde Park: Local dessert mini-chain Vanille Patisserie closed its Hyde Park storefront permanently on March 17. In a Facebook post, ownership pointed to the “devastating economic situation caused by COVID-19.” The business also has locations in Lincoln Park and in Chicago’s French Market.
Lincoln Park: Specialty chocolate company Vosges Haut Chocolat has closed its retail location in Lincoln Park. Prior to the pandemic, the company operated another store on Michigan Avenue and two shops inside O’Hare International Airport. The Armitage shop served coffee and hot chocolate.
Lincoln Square: Iconic North Side 24-hour diner Jeri’s Grill is permanently closed after nearly 60 years. “Jeri’s Grill was a part of the past living in a modern world,” owner Di Piero writes in the closing announcement, posted May 9. “Unfortunately the past can no longer survive in this post pandemic world…if these walls could talk they would tell beautiful and sad stories of many lives.”
North Center: Gastropub and sports bar Monty Gael’s Tavern and Grill is permanently closed after seven years. A for-sale sign hangs in the window.
Logan Square: Pioneering Macanese restaurant Fat Rice is closed “for the foreseeable future” after eight years. Adrienne Lo and James Beard Award-winner Abe Conlon also operated a neighboring bakery and a cocktail bar, and last year debuted a stall inside Fulton Market’s Time Out Market Chicago. The pair have since transitioned the Fat Rice space into Super Fat Rice Mart, a general store sells $99 meal kits, groceries, and more.
Streeterville/Lombard: Chicago-based 4 Star Restaurant Group has permanently closed two of its venues — the Windsor in Streeterville and D.O.C. Wine Bar in suburban Lombard — because of the coronavirus-related dine-in closures, according to social media posts from May 4. “With a heavy heart, we are sad to announce that we are closing our doors for good due to the challenges surrounding the coronavirus shutdown,” one post reads.
West Loop: New Orleans-style lounge the Front Room is for sale, according to a Facebook post from March 9. The spot opened in 2018 along Randolph Restaurant Row.
Gallery: Devastating Recent Restaurant Closures (Eat This, Not That!)