The statewide shutdown of restaurants and bars for on-premise service took effect March 16. Since then, several restaurants and bars have reopened for dining and drinking, as Chicago and the state have rolled out gradual reopening plans. But not all of them have made it.
As the pandemic continues toward the five-month mark, we’ve put together a list of bars and restaurants that have been forced to close due to the financial strain of COVID-19 regulations. Note that these closures are strictly finance-related and are not due to illness among any of the business’ staff.
We will update the list as needed.
The downtown restaurant and bar did not mention the pandemic shutdown specifically, but a Facebook post announcing its closure noted that it was “due to our current situation.”
The highest-profile Chicago restaurant victim of coronavirus to date has been Blackbird, closing for good after more than 22 years as one of the area’s finest restaurants. “We’ve labored long and hard over this decision,” said partner Paul Kahan. “But in an incredibly small, tight dining room — operating at only 25% capacity for who knows how long — and removing the opportunity to do private dining, it becomes incredibly difficult to manage.” — Phil Vettel
Bad Hunter — known for its vegetable-and-grains-forward menu — and its second floor event venue The Herbarium closed for good because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The West Loop restaurant, which survived a fire and re-opened in 2019, was voted the Chicago restaurant with the best plant-based menu in the Chicago Tribune Readers’ Choice Dining Awards earlier this year. — Grace Wong
Noah Sandoval (Oriole, Kumiko/Kikko) will join with friend Bruce Finkelman, managing partner of the 16 1/4 u2033 On Center restaurant group (Longman & Eagle, Dusek’s Board & Beer, Revival Food Hall), to create Pizza Friendly Pizza, opening later this summer in the Bite Cafe space. Finkelman said, “Once the quarantine hit, I realized that that type of restaurant wouldn’t be able to exist in the post-COVID culinary scene.” — Phil Vettel
The second Chicago location of the world famous pizzeria was located in Wicker Park, but Eater Chicago reported that Bonci’s director of US operations said consolidating to one location (West Loop) was necessary in light of the pandemic.
Bridgeport Coffee Co.
The Chicago coffee roaster closed its Loop location in June, confirming the shuttering as a result of COVID in a blog post. Its other three in Bridgeport, Hyde Park and the South Loop remain open.
The One Off Hospitality property was another casualty of the pandemic, closing at the same time as Blackbird.
California Clipper and coffee shop C.C. Ferns
Both the Clipper and attached cafe C.C. Ferns shuttered permanently due to the COVID shutdown. However, there have been conflicting accounts between Hogsalt Hospitality owner Brendan Sodikoff and landlord Gino Battaglia as to how the fallout was navigated, according to reports from Eater Chicago and Block Club Chicago, respectively.
Chicago House Of ‘Za
The North Center spot for all-vegan pizza shared an Instagram post announcing its permanent closure, citing the financial effects of the pandemic shutdown as part of the reason: “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 Norwood Park restaurant, which also featured music and dancing, announced it would be closing on Facebook. The post read, “I’m deeply saddened to announce Congas Restaurant will not be opening again. Covid-19 made me realize the most important things in life.” Another post teased a return for the Congas name, but as more of a venue-esque space.
The Little Italy location of Davanti Enoteca has closed for good, and, according to a report from the Sun-Times, it appears finances were a factor: “A demand letter dated June 12 from the landlord … said the establishment was nearly $60,000 behind on rent.” The letter was posted on the window of Francesca’s, a sister restaurant also owned by chef David Harris.
Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market
Owner Glenn Fahlstrom confirmed that he would be closing the Lakeview seafood spot in an online post shared on the restaurant’s website and social media pages. The post, in part, read: “The new restaurant model is asking owners to put employees in harm’s way so that their business can possibly survive. That is an ‘acceptable risk’ i cannot take. The restaurant business as i know it is gone and will not return for years. It was hard enough when the playing field was supposedly level, now it is tilted beyond recognition. So, i am closing Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market.”
Fat Rice / Super Fat Rice Mart
At the beginning of the pandemic shutdown, Fat Rice pivoted to become Super Fat Rice Mart, a market for meal kits and various grocery goods. Later, current and former Fat Rice employees went public with allegations of harassment and mistreatment by owner Abe Conlon, and the location has been closed ever since, with no public mention of a reopening date.
The multi-station food concept located in Water Tower Place confirmed its closing in early June, although owner Lettuce Entertain You declined to comment exactly why. — Nick Kindelsperger
Francesca’s On Taylor
As with Taylor Street’s Davanti Enoteca — the two restaurants share ownership — the Italian restaurant in Little Italy has closed permanently, with reports indicating that rent-payment issues were at least partly to blame.
Guthrie’s Tavern, one of Chicago’s oldest and most popular neighborhood bars, announced Monday night it would be closing permanently, citing the city’s rollback of phase four rules as a primary cause. Guthrie’s has occupied the corner of Addison Street and Lakewood Avenue for 34 years. It will close Thursday. See the complete story here. — Adam Lukach
Hot “G” Dog
Andersonville lost a hot-dog joint — at least the rest of 2020 — from the former Hot Doug’s chef with the closure of Hot “G” Dog. A Facebook post from the restaurant said it hopes to return eventually, but the COVID shutdown had made business unsustainable for now.
A spokesperson for the parent company of the River North sushi restaurant wrote in an email: “Yes, the COVID closure was a devastating financial hit for us and the reason behind our closure … The Chicago location was very special to us, and we were sad to close.”
La Buona Vita
La Buona Vita, a Northern Italian restaurant in downtown La Grange closed its doors after a six-year run. In a message posted on the restaurant’s now-defunct website, owner Jim Barron named COVID-19 as the proximate cause of his restaurant’s demise. — Phil Vettel
The owners of the longtime Italian restaurant had already planned to sell the building and restaurant prior to the pandemic, according to Block Club Chicago.
The Mexican restaurant will be consolidating operations, closing its Glenview restaurant and moving everything to its location in Portage Park, per a note on its website. The note cited the “situation” from COVID-19 as the impetus for the decision.
Mity Nice Bar & Grill
Along with Foodlife, this Water Tower Place restaurant from Lettuce Entertain You closed in early June. Ownership declined to disclose specific reasons.
The casual River North bar announced on June 15 via Facebook that it would be permanently closing, although it did not specifically reference the costs of shutting down for the pandemic as a reason.
Owners confirmed via email that the state’s COVID shutdown caused financial losses that required the Indonesian restaurant in Lincoln Park to permanently close.
Step Down Cafe
The Pilsen coffee shop announced on its Facebook page that it would close permanently due to the effects of the pandemic.
Taqueria Sabor y Sazon
The popular Pilsen taqueria closed permanently in May. The financial difficulties of trying to survive the pandemic’s hospitality restrictions were insurmountable, the owners said.
Tintos & Tapas
Laura Rivera, the owner of the Spanish small plates restaurant, confirmed via email that the closing of Tintos & Tapas was due to the financial strain of the COVID-19 shutdown, as well as its effects on how it operated: “My chef and I cried the last day we were there to clean up,” she wrote. “Carryout is not a model that works for my type of operation at all. Frankly it is demoralizing to become a fast food.”
Trattoria No. 10
A goodbye post on the reliable Italian restaurant’s website alluded to the pandemic shutdown as cause for its shuttering, reading, “With no theater and no convention/tourism business for the foreseeable future, there was just no way we could realistically reopen.”
Two Lights Seafood & Oyster
A post on the Old Town restaurant’s Facebook page confirmed that Two Lights has closed, although it did not mention whether or not the shuttering was due to the financial effects of COVID.
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