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.
This article lists 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, sorted alphabetically, as needed.
Taco in a Bag
Taco in a Bag has closed after five years in Lincoln Square. The shop specialized in playful versions of walking tacos, a dish where components one would normally find on a taco are instead poured into a bag of corn chips. The restaurant announced the closure on Facebook with a surprisingly irreverent, if slightly hopeful video. The owners assured fans that, “we will be back...promise!!!!” Block Club Chicago first reported the closing. — Nick Kindelsperger
FULL RESTAURANT CLOSINGS LIST
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.”
Arlington Cake Box Bakery
Chicagoland residents have been celebrating special occasions with the baking of Arlington Cake Box Bakery for 71 years, but the bakery announced in a Facebook post last week that it closed Sept. 20. “We are so grateful for the level of support you have shown us, not only in these unprecedented last six months, but also in the past 71 years,” read the post. The bakery first opened in 1949 and had been on its third generation as a family business.
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
Band of Bohemia
Five-year-old Band of Bohemia, whose pioneering vision of brewing beer and serving creative, ambitious food was ultimately rewarded with a coveted Michelin star, is going out of business after filing for bankruptcy. The Ravenswood brewpub filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation Oct. 16 in the Northern District of Illinois. According to court records, Band of Bohemia is more than $1 million in debt. But in a statement Oct. 21, Band of Bohemia founders Michael Carroll and Craig Sindelar blamed the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic for the closure. The restaurant has been closed since July, when owners said it would be shuttering temporarily. See the full story here. — Josh Noel
The barbecue spot, which used South African flavors to riff on traditional ‘cue, announced in May on its Facebook page that it would close permanently due to the effects of the shutdown, writing: “When a small business’s revenue is interrupted it is devastating; when it’s a restaurant, earth shattering best describes it.”
Bar Biscay, the restaurant that lit up West Town with coastal-Spain sunshine, has closed, for keeps, after a 2 1/4 u00bd-year run. Partner Scott Worsham said in a posting on Facebook that, “The time has come to say goodbye to our groovy, Atlantic-coast inspired French-Spanish-Basque funhouse, our Oasis of Joy. He blamed COVID-19 and “factors beyond our control.” See the full story here. — Phil Vettel
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 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
Bonci (Wicker Park)
The second Chicago location of the world famous pizzeria was located in Wicker Park, but Eater Chicago reported that Bonci’s director of U.S. operations said consolidating to one location (West Loop) was necessary in light of the pandemic.
The no-frills steakhouse in Homer Glen confirmed via Facebook message that it has closed for good due to the effects of the pandemic shutdown.
Bottled Blonde, the River North bar better known for its legal drama than pizza, closed permanently July 27, due to the coronavirus — but COVID-19 violations are not among the complaints against it. The business “surrendered their business licenses, permanently closing the River North bar after a series of serious nuisance conditions dating back to 2017,” according to a statement from the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. The bar had not received any citations related to COVID-19, wrote the department spokesperson.
The district manager of Bottled Blonde said, “It’s been an uphill battle since we came into this neighborhood. We had fights with the city, fights with the neighborhood. With the COVID thing, you need revenue to keep up those fights. We can’t stay open and operate at limited capacities.” See the full story here. — Louisa Chu
Boulangerie (Belmont Avenue)
The French bakery chain La Boulangerie has closed the Lakeview location on Belmont Avenue. The Logan Square and Ravenswood bakeries remain open, but for pickup and delivery only.
Bridgeport Coffee Co. (Loop)
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.
Andersonville has one less spot to sate your sweet tooth, as Candyality has announced in a Facebook post that it will be closing its location in the neighborhood at the end of September. The closing comes “with great sadness” after spending more than 5 years in that space, the post reads. The Chicago-based candy store — which has also had locations in Wicker Park and Water Tower Place during the past several years — is still open at its Lakeview location, 3737 N. Southport Ave., and offers local delivery.
The One Off Hospitality property in Wicker Park 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.”
City Mouse, the Ace Hotel restaurant operated by the team behind Giant and Chef’s Special, is closing after three years. Sunday, Oct. 18, will be the last day, the restaurant announced Wednesday in a statement. Jason Vincent, one of the partners at Giant and Chef’s Special, declined further comment. Giant and Chef’s Special bar announced just Tuesday it was launching a food truck to get their creative cooking to a larger audience. The space is going to be occupied by the Alinea Group, starting in November; owner Nick Kokonas confirmed that Alinea has leased the space for a three-month residency, but offered no additional details. For more details, see the story here. — Phil Vettel
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.
Ditka’s in Chicago
The economic effects of the mandated shutdown were a contributing factor in the closure of Mike Ditka’s Chicago restaurant in May. Other locations remain open, including Ditka’s in suburban Oakbrook Terrace and Grill 89 in suburban Westmont.
Eden, a Cal-Mediterranean restaurant popular with pre- and post-event United Center crowd (among others), closed in mid-July after a run of just over 3 1/4 u00bd years. Eden opened on west Lake Street in December 2016 and made friends quickly, both for its pretty, bright-white interiors and Devon Quinn’s skillful cooking. The owners said in a release that “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.” Read the full story here. — Phil Vettel
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.
Fat Willy’s Rib Shack
The North Side is losing another barbecue spot after Fat Willy’s Rib Shack announced Thursday evening that it will close Sept. 27. The Logan Square restaurant has been in the neighborhood for more than 19 years and has a loyal following of diners who go there for baby back ribs, pulled pork, brisket and mac and cheese. See the full story here. — Grace Wong
Finom Coffee — the popular two-year-old cafe in Old Irving Park known for serving Hungarian small plates, along with coffee, tea and baked goods, out of a snazzy art-deco storefront, has closed. Chef Rafa Esparza posted an upbeat message on Instagram: “It was a beautiful moment in time and the whole crew slayed from day one!” See the full story here. — Adam Lukach
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
For the past 10 years, Fountainhead bar and restaurant has occupied the northeast corner of Damen and Montrose, one of Ravenswood’s essential intersections, bringing an enviable selection of whiskey and barrel-aged spirits to the neighborhood. In late September, the restaurant announced in social media posts that its run will come to an end Nov 14. “The past year has been difficult for everyone but pressures facing our industry at this time make it financially impossible to operate past the roof deck season. We made every effort to make adjustments to operate in this ‘new normal’ but with limitations restricting revenue and without funding to offset this condition it is impossible to continue,” read the post. Fountainhead owners are working with building ownership to find the “right concept” for the prominently situated storefront. Rhe Fountainhead Market — located next door — will remain there. — Adam Lukach
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.
The Gino’s East restaurant at 500 N. LaSalle St. has closed, a victim of a decline in business downtown, according to Jordan Himmel, chief information officer for Chicago-based Bravo Restaurants (which owns Gino’s East, Ed Debevic’s, Edwardo’s Pizza and Eduardo’s Enoteca.) The location closed in March, but other Chicago locations remain open.
Guthrie’s Tavern, one of Chicago’s oldest and most popular neighborhood bars, announced it would be closing permanently, citing the city’s rollback of phase four rules for bars as a primary cause. Guthrie’s has occupied the corner of Addison Street and Lakewood Avenue for 34 years. It closed July 23. See the complete story here. — Adam Lukach
Per a post on its website, Habana Libre closed permanently “due to the impact of coronavirus.” The Cuban restaurant had been in West Town since 2007.
Andersonville’s Hamburger Mary’s — the only remaining city location of the nationwide network of independent franchises — announced Sunday on Facebook that it would be closing Nov. 1. Ownership listed the building for sale last year, and the lease ends at the end of December, but the coronavirus pandemic expedited the closing process, according to the post. The burger-focused restaurant, an outlet of the San Francisco-based chain, opened on a high-profile in Andersonville in June 2006, featuring drag shows, karaoke and bingo, along with the burgers. The closing announcement also teased ownership interest in reopening at another location: “We feel it’s best to wait until spring before we look for a possible new space.” The restaurant will host regular business hours until its final day of service Nov. 1. — 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 its owners hope to return eventually, but the COVID shutdown had made business unsustainable for now.
Ownership for the laid-back Edgewater wine bar confirmed via email that the pandemic’s effect on Income Tax’s financials led to its closing. It had been open since 2016.
The diner on Western Avenue was a monument to greasy spoons of yore, open for 57 years and 24 hours a day, and was cut down by COVID-19, reported Block Club Chicago in May. “If there was no COVID, we’d be open,” owner Frank Di Piero told the publication.
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.”
Earlier this summer, changes to the OpenTable website for Kiki’s Bistro caused some confusion over whether or not the beloved River North spot had closed for good. The restaurant shared a clarification that, for now, it would be open for business. Sadly, however, Kiki’s website changed late last week, indicating that the restaurant will close permanently after the final day of service Sept. 30. “We appreciate the birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions and everyday meals that you spent dining and laughing with us. Those memories have sustained us through the last few months, as your visits did for those many years,” read the post. It wasn’t all bad news, though, mentioning that a small-time operation remains on the radar for Kiki’s founder Georges “Kiki” Cuisance: “Kiki, 87, is attempting retirement with an open eye for a potential petite Kiki’s — a tiny, cozy reboot with the potential to offer authentic French fare you love on a very intimate scale.” See the full story here. — Adam Lukach
Kroll’s South Loop
One of the South Loop’s signature sports bars, Kroll’s South Loop, announced in a Facebook post that it would be closing its doors at the end of the summer. “We fought hard,” read the announcement. “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. … We do not know whether this closure will last until next spring or forever. Only time will tell.” Kroll’s will remain open for dinner service Thursdays through Sundays until it concludes its 15-year run at the end of summer.
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.
Lawry’s The Prime Rib
Lawry’s The Prime Rib, which has been a fixture on Ontario Street (just west of Michigan Avenue) for 46 years, is calling it quits at the end of the year. Staffers were notified Saturday. The coronavirus, recent civil unrest and an expiring lease all contributed to the decision, said Ryan Wilson, CEO of Lawry’s Inc. “In a year of incredible turmoil, this is a tough one for sure,” he said. “But with the industry in general in such a state of flux, we felt we had to push the pause button," he added, leaving room for Lawry’s to reopen. “I think there’s a future for Lawry’s in the Chicago area,” Wilson said. See the full story here. — Phil Vettel
Michael Quinlan, owner of the Milwaukee Avenue beer bar in Wicker Park, wrote in an email that Links was planning to move out of its storefront at some point in 2020 due to an acrimonious relationship with its landlord. Due the the COVID-19 shutdown, he decided to pull the plug on Links in March. As of late July, Quinlan indicated that ownership is “going to wait until things stabilize until we make our next move.”
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.
Monty Gaels Tavern & Grill
The Irish tavern in Ravenswood closed permanently due to the burden of the pandemic shutdown, ownership confirmed in a Facebook message.
The Andersonville restaurant announced over Labor Day weekend that it would be closing its doors permanently, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic. Passerotto’s last day is Sept. 12. Chef Jennifer Kim said the decision to close was a result of multiple conversations with staff and investors, and ultimately they decided that “operating a restaurant safely in the midst of multiple pandemics was going to negatively affect our community in the long run.” A pop-up project was also teased on the restaurant’s profile. See the full story here. — Grace Wong
The casual River North bar announced June 15 via Facebook it would be permanently closing, although it did not specifically reference the costs of shutting down for the pandemic as a reason.
The Rainforest Cafe in the Near North neighborhood has closed sooner than expected after it shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. The restaurant at 605 N. Clark St. was expected to close within two years, when its lease expired. That timeline was accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has left the Chicago restaurant closed since March, said building owner Sean Conlon. He recently negotiated an early termination of the lease with parent company Landry’s Restaurants. He plans to redevelop the site. See the full story here. — Ryan Ori
Ramen Misoya (Streeterville)
The Loop lost one of its best bets for ramen in August with the closing of Ramen Misoya’s storefront in Streeterville. “Due to a loss in business caused by the Covid-19 shutdown, we can no longer justify continuing operations at this time,” read a post on its Facebook page. On the bright side, the Mount Prospect location of Misoya remains open.
Redmond’s Ale House
Remond’s Ale House has closed due to the financial stress of the COVIID-19 restrictions. The Wrigleyville bar, which had been at the corner of Sheffield and Roscoe for years, was known for offering an abundance of drink deals and for being an area staple for game-watching due to plenty of TVs and good sightlines.
Owners confirmed via email that the state’s COVID-19 shutdown caused financial losses that required the Indonesian restaurant in Lincoln Park to permanently close.
Ronny’s, a cafeteria-style “steakhouse” that had occupied two separate downtown corners for years, announced plans to close due to the coronavirus in a Facebook announcement over Labor Day weekend. “We won’t say ‘good bye’ but rather ‘until we meet again,’” read the post. The Loop staple began 63 years ago at the corner of State and Randolph and, in recent years, operated at the corner of Clark and Lake.
La Sardine, which has been a fixture in the West Loop for nearly 22 years, has closed for good. “It’s sad,” said partner and executive chef Oliver Poilevey about closing La Sardine, founded by his parents, along with Le Bouchon in Bucktown. “A month, month-and-a-half ago, I thought we were going to make it.” La Sardine has no outdoor space in which to set up tables, but had eked by with meals-to-go and, eventually, indoor dining with the 25% capacity limitation. Then the weather turned warm and the unthinkable happened: The air conditioning broke down. Looking at $80,000 in repairs, Poilevey knew he could not risk taking on the cost. “There’s no way we could pay for that, heading into the fall with no rent abatement,” Poilevey said. “Throwing 80K at something and then having to close — that’s not a good plan.” Le Bouchon remains open for pickup and indoor dining, though space inside is limited. For the full story, go here. — Phil Vettel
Siam Rice (117 N. Wells St.) has closed after 18 years in the Loop, according to a note posted on the Thai restaurant’s window. "Unfortunately, we have come to the decision that it is no longer viable to operate our business during these uncertain times,” the note said. “This was a difficult decision for us, however, recent events and current pandemic conditions have left us concerned for the safety of our customers as well as our staff.” The note ends with an apology to customers and the hope that the restaurant will be able to return in the future. The restaurant’s last day Sept. 15.
The Vietnamese restaurant, which had been in Lincoln Park for nearly 14 years, closed permanently in April, reported Block Club Chicago. COVID-19 restrictions and unworkable margins gave owner Tuan Nguyen “no choice” but to close, he told Block Club.
Southport Lanes has lasted nearly a century by evolving, at various times serving as a tavern, bowling alley, speak-easy, brothel and illegal off-track horse betting venue. But the Lakeview mainstay, which opened not long after another pandemic, couldn’t survive COVID-19. Read the full story here. — Ryan Ori
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.
The coronavirus claimed another high-profile restaurant victim with the permanent closure of Tin Fish, a highly regarded restaurant in south-suburban Tinley Park. A sign on the front door of the seafood restaurant and oyster bar thanked customers “for 18 great years,” and said the decision to close came “with a heavy heart.” “I’m not happy, but it’s something a lot of us are going through,” said partner Curtis Wierbicki, who launched the restaurant in September 2002 with partner Colin Turner. The restaurant closed in July. See the full story here. — Phil Vettel
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.”
Owner Jeanne Roeser confirmed in a Facebook message that she had closed both the Bucktown and Lincoln Park locations of the 24-year-old breakfast favorite: “I couldn’t imagine reopening and surviving with reduced capacity and putting my staff and their families at risk of harm.” Roeser also posted a goodbye note on Facebook, which reads in part: “Nothing lasts forever in this world and it is time to move forward and see what this next phase will bring. I wish you peace and good health, my friends.”
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.
U.B. Dogs (185 N. Franklin St.), a stellar hot dog joint that served a flawless fully loaded Chicago hot dog, freshly grilled burgers and great fries, has closed. With the coronavirus pandemic forcing countless downtown office workers to telecommute from home, the Loop-based U.B. Dogs decided it was time to close for good. Owner Joe Plonka announced the decision on Facebook: “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. Unfortunately, it’s time for us to end this chapter.” See the full story here. — Nick Kindelsperger
Unicorn Cafe had been serving coffee to Evanston for almost 30 years before the coffee shop closed permanently due to the financial effects of COVID-19, reported the Daily Northwestern earlier in September. According to the Daily report, ownership said the cafe was getting only 8-10 customers per day. Aside from being a local staple, Unicorn Cafe was one of only a handful of area coffee shops that offered the highly touted Sparrow Coffee.
Wells St. Market
Wells Street Market, which reopened July 6 after weathering the first three months of the coronavirus shut down (and was the first Chicago food hall to resume service) announced it will close for keeps Sept. 18. “From all of us at the Wells Street Market, it has been an honor and a joy to serve Chicagoans every day,” the company said in a release. The food hall made its debut, at 205 W. Wacker Drive, in June 2018. The food hall format had enjoyed a boom in Chicago in recent years. But most have not reopened since the coronavirus shutdown. Only Time Out Market has reopened. But a new market, Dr. Murphy’s Food Hall, launched in early August in the former Cook County Hospital. — Phil Vettel
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