Last Thursday, we learned that the state closed down Gioco after the popular South Loop restaurant's owners failed to pay required employee withholding and sales taxes. Then the following day, news broke that Red Light, which is also owned by KDK Restaurants, Inc., shuttered after illegally operating without a liquor license. Jerry Kleiner, one of the partners in KDK, told Crain's last week that Gioco has been profitable and they wanted to get it back open as quickly as possible.
But Red Light, which has less than a year on its lease in the West Loop location, will likely not reopen, at least under KDK management. Kleiner told Eater that KDK put the restaurant on the market about a month ago and two parties have expressed interest in buying the concept. Regarding Gioco, Kleiner said he and his partners are meeting this week to determine whether they're going to get it open again and continue operating or if they want to put it on the market as well.
"Red Light is 15 years old so it's a little bit tired, but it has run a tremendous course," Kleiner said. "With Gioco, it's profitbale, and we have a partnership there and we have to sort out and see what everyone wants to do. That's going to take a few days to figure out. There's a possibility we may sell it off and put it to rest. It's all been a great run for everybody."
So KDK, which at one time was one of the most successful restaurant groups in Chicago with places like the now-shuttered Marché and still-operating Vivo leading the charge in the early to mid '90s, and can be credited for helping make the West Loop what it is today, may cease to exist. Kleiner has been working on his own projects, including Carnivale and 33 Club, for a few years, and has design projects "all over the world," he said. His partner, Howard Davis, is also working on separate projects. Dan Krasny, who was a third partner, split from KDK years ago and continues to operate Vivo. "I'm moving in a whole new direction in my life," Kleiner said. "As each restaurant has moved on ... I moved on. I have projects all over."
Kleiner, who recently put his Noble Square home on the market, said he's been spending more time in Los Angeles, where he also has a home. He's currently scouting locations to possibly re-create Carnivale, which has had a successful six-year run and doesn't seem to be slowing down. Kleiner said he's thinking about also opening Carnivale Express, a fast-casual modified version of the nuevo Latino restaurant.
So what's the future of KDK? "Howard and I are the only guys left," Kleiner said. "We had these concepts we were holding on to. We're all going in different directions. Everyone is leaving on good terms. This is like a champagne time with a great celebration." Stay tuned ...
· Gioco Shuttered by State [~EChi~]
· More Trouble for KDK Restaurants: Red Light Goes Dark Amid License Problems [Crain's]
· Through the Looking-Glass at Restaurateur Jerry Kleiner's House [Curbed Chicago]