Chicago's food and drink community is probably getting coal in their stockings this holiday season, and Wicker Park is probably getting even more turnover. Bom Bolla, the highly-regarded new Spanish cava wine bar and restaurant on Milwaukee Avenue from the Pops For Champagne folks, is likely closing two days before Christmas due to financial woes, partner and operations manager W. Craig Cooper confirms. The spot has been open for just less than seven months.
The crux of the situation comes down to funding. Bom Bolla was light on capital from the outset, Cooper says, and combined with the large space in expensive Wicker Park that includes a yet-to-open second floor and rooftop that they're also paying rent for, as well as 2 p.m. weekday opening hours that tax labor costs, and the situation became dire. "The funding wasn't there for us to operate in this space while we wait for it to catch on," he says.
Despite the critical acclaim and expected neighborhood business after six months in, part-owner and chief investor Tom Verhey, the man behind sister concept Pops For Champagne, decided to pull the plug. "We were confident that if we had time we would bring the whole city in," Cooper says. "(But) the powers that be don't have faith that it'll turn around. (Tom) had to make the call he had to make."
Cooper says he started alerting employees to the possibility two weeks ago. "The reason we made it official was that I wanted to give my staff notice," he says.
A tiny chance exists that Bom Bolla can be saved, however, if an investor steps in to boost funding. "There's a possibility of a new owner but it's not a strong possibility," says Cooper. Danny's Tavern is one example of a well-regarded spot that recently almost closed in Wicker Park/Bucktown but stayed alive, although that was a landlord dispute and didn't change ownership.
As it stands now, Dec. 23, when it was already set to close for a holiday break, will be Bom Bolla's last day in business. Cooper also emailed a statement, which you can read below.
As much as we love what we do at bom bolla, and as much as our guests have seemed to enjoy what we do, the math isn't adding up for us. We have a very big space (including a second floor most aren't even aware of) and a very big rent, but unfortunately not enough funding behind us to keep it all propped up while we wait for our concept to get its needed footing. Chicago is a huge, competitive market with every dining and drinking option one could imagine.
When you attempt a concept that is perhaps less "obvious" than others, you need time to build the culture around that concept. No matter how proud we are of our people and what they have accomplished here at bom bolla, our financial situation has not afforded us the luxury of that needed time. Perhaps we were overly hopeful. Perhaps we were naive.
Being a 7 day a week, 12 hour a day operation, we decided long ago that we would close for an extended time over the holidays, so as to ensure all of our employees some needed time off. Thus, our last day of service will be December 23. We do hope to address our financial health by the end of the month. I cannot say at this time if we will be able to reopen in 2016.
My staff and I would like to thank everyone for their support in this short but (we think) glorious run.