After almost 20 years years in Bucktown and Wicker Park, Feast Restaurant & Bar is closing. Debra Sharpe, who also owns the Goddess & Grocer chain, will close her restaurant on Dec. 31, marking another change in the neighborhood that she helped mold. The property’s landlord plans on redeveloping the land.
“Sales have been slow,” Sharpe said. “There’s just so many restaurants in the area there’s just new ones popping up every day. People just want to try out new things all the time.”
Sharpe broke the news to staff in Sunday, and tears were shed. Some of her workers had been with Feast for 16 years. The building was sold, and the new landlord wants retailers to replace Feast knowing that they will pay more than Sharpe for the space.
Feast’s menu features American comfort foods with a global twist. It was a neighborhood vanguard, a restaurant that ushered in an era of quality dining in Bucktown and Wicker Park, two areas that didn’t have as many restaurant options two decades ago. Back in 2001, Sharpe moved Feast a few blocks west to its current location. It formerly operated inside the Las Palmas spot at 1835 W. North Ave. Sharpe has run three restaurants at this Damen location. She operated Commune before Feast and ran another concept called Con Fusion. There was also a second location of Feast in Gold Coast. That spot closed in 2012.
Though Sharpe, 61, praised the neighborhood—she has a Goddess & Grocer across the street from Feast—she said it had more character back when she first opened in 1996. Northside Bar & Grill opened first and Feast followed.
“It’s a lovely neighborhood but it’s changed from artsy single people,” she said. “It’s now very much a family neighborhood and that’s OK because that’s supporting a lot of the stores.”
Sharpe will now focus on her more casual concepts. She said she’s too old to reconcept, lacking the time and endurance to open something new.
“I appreciate everything, everyone so much,” Sharpe said. “Hopefully I will see you in the neighborhood.”
For the restaurant’s final weeks they’ll offer a greatest hits menu with Feast’s most-beloved items. Sharpe said they’ve got other surprises, too. Check out some of what to expect below.