Another longtime River North restaurant may go away due to a landlord real estate decision. Phil Stefani's 437 Rush, the Chicago Italian restaurant mogul's 15-year-old upscale Italian steakhouse concept steps from the Magnificent Mile, is in serious limbo as Stefani awaits his landlord's decision on whether the building will be torn down, according to Stefani. The restaurant began a 60-day lease extension on Jan. 1, and its fate is very dicey as the clock ticks down to the end of February. What would become of the building's footprint is currently unknown.
Furthering the situation, executive chef Christian Fantoni has already vacated his position at 437 Rush. The Italian-bred chef, a veteran of Le Bernardin, Bice, and Filini, will head to RPM Italian this month, Lettuce Entertain You reps confirm. Stefani's corporate chef Joe Roireau is running 437 Rush's kitchen until a decision is made.
But even if the landlord decides not to tear down the building, 437 Rush as you know it is going away. That's because, if that scenario comes to pass, Stefani has decided he will reconcept it into something different. 437 Rush has hosted a variety of luminaries since opening in 2000, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Kobe Bryant, and the Stanley Cup (twice).
Phil Stefani's full statement is below. Stefani reps promise updates as the month moves along—stay tuned.
"Two years ago it was announced that the building that houses 437 Rush was being torn down when our lease expired on December 31, 2015. We agreed to extend another sixty days while the landlord determines if the building will remain as is or what direction they will go. In the meantime our Corporate Chef Joe Roireau will oversee the kitchen while we brainstorm if we will remain with a new concept depending on the outcome of the building and our lease negotiations."