In a surprising move, Rodan, the lounge, gastropub and event venue that's long supported Wicker Park's counterculture art community, is closing at the end of the week. The 12-year run will come to end on Sunday with a party honoring Reggie Destin, the skateboarder killed in 2012 after a drunken driver struck him nearby on Milwaukee Avenue.
Former Rodan general manager Lance Akins, who recently moved to Wilmington, N.C., confirmed the pending closure. He says that ownership seemingly lost the fire for running the place, and that the landlord raised the rent by at least $2000 a month. "I had a feeling, when you've been in the industry and worked in so many places, you kind of feel it," Akins said.
The neighborhood may not fit Rodan anymore, as Akins noted three new taco places to open within close proximity as an example — four now with the opening of Taco Bell Cantina. "The neighborhood, it's a little bit more, I don't want to say it, it's a little bit more generic," he says. "The music's changing, there's more shopping...."
Sunday's event is an afterparty for Boombastic, an event Destin, who was immersed in the community, used to hold in Wicker Park. Folks will bring their boom boxes or radios tuned to a special radio station set up nearby by event organizers. Rodan's held the after party for years.
"Rodan was always a place you could come solo and have a good time and meet interesting people and have great conversation," Akins said. "It always maintained its underground elegance; it was never about commercial music."
Rodan's food was also underrated, Akins said. Named for the flying monster from the Godzilla movies, the menu had an Asian-fusion vibe serving up braised pork shoulders and chicken wings. They switched chefs and owners three years ago.
The funky lighting in the back room also made it conducive for a a wide array of events. Live bands and DJs from a variety of genres, art and fashion shows, and movie showings were a part. of the venue's uniqueness. "It was a slice of New York done Chicago style," Akins said.
There's no word yet on a new tenant for the space.