Six months after opening as the reconcepted Market, Packing House, the massive restaurant and bar on Randolph Row, is closed to the general public following a staff exodus, conceptual changes and a break-in. The restaurant at 1113 W. Randolph St. is only open for private events for the foreseeable future and customers can neither walk in nor book personal reservations, according to its private events coordinator and office manager, and neither knows when it will fully reopen.
Amanda Barnes (The Purple Pig, City Tavern, Moto), who came aboard as the reopening executive chef with big dreams of making Packing House into a serious restaurant, left at the beginning of September—along with much of the reopening staff. "Ownership wanted to take the restaurant in a new direction," she says via text. "I decided to follow an opportunity elsewhere that was more in keeping with my food philosophy." That new direction, according to Barnes, was to revert to the Market sports bar concept. Tim Fink replaced Barnes as executive chef.
Owner Karl Spektor, who also owns the River North nightclub Board Room as well as MOD Construction, which has built and designed many hospitality projects in Chicago, including many Lettuce Entertain You establishments, has not responded to requests for comment. Spektor is the subject of multiple lawsuits involved with Board Room, including an Intentional Tort case for $50,001 that was filed in Cook County Court in late August. While Board Room is now closed, Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd) is working to revoke its liquor license so it can't reopen and termed the club "bad actors."
Packing House was broken into last weekend as well. According to Chicago P.D. officer Ana Pacheco, "three unknown offenders entered the business" at 2:07 a.m. on October 12 and "damaged some items inside the property and fled with several items." The incident is under investigation, no arrests have been made yet and Chicago P.D. has no further information on what was stolen and the extent of the damage at this time.
All of this adds up to a hazy future for the former Market that was remodeled, reconcepted and reopened as Packing House in April. But at least you can still hold a private or corporate event.
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