Not even a visit from Beyonce and Jay Z could save Buck’s, as the former Carriage House shuttered this week in Wicker Park. There’s “for rent” signs at the space which changed names in late 2015 and added a more casual atmosphere to lure more drinkers. More recently, Matthias Merges’ Folkart Management Group (Yusho, A10, Old Irving Brewing Co.) was brought in as a consultant in October.
Buck’s closed on Wednesday, Merges said, as the space had accumulated too much debt. Folkart had been evaluating Buck’s and The Bedford, located a few blocks east on Division Street. Those two restaurants share the same ownership, and Merges was brought in to research and help get the most out of the two spaces. After their due diligence, Folkart told ownership they had two choices: Rebrand (again) or to close.
“It’s a unique space, but there’s too much existing debt and not enough flexibility with the fixed costs that they have to make the current business viable,” Merges said.
Bucks’ revamp focused more on fried chicken and kegged cocktails. Executive chef Mike Galen, who served double duty, had been concentrating on The Bedford, located a few blocks east on Division. Using Folkart’s suggestions, they’ve tweaked the menu and made staff changes. Any improvements will determine with Folkart will invest in the space, Merges said.
Carriage House was a Michelin Bib Gourmand winner in 2015 and 2016 and earned national acclaim after opening in 2012. The Lowcountry cooking gave Carriage House a spot on Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in America list in 2013. It was also a regular member of the Eater Chicago 38 before opening chef/owner Mark Steuer departed.
Before Carriage House, the space was a non-descript sports bar called The Edge that lured members of the gym across the street. Thanks to an Eater Chicago reader who first spotted the signage.