There’s never a good reason to close a restaurant, Bar Marta’s Austin Baker said, but despite critical acclaim, Baker will do exactly that on Saturday in Humboldt Park. Baker—who left Brendan Sodikoff’s Hogsalt Hospitality two years ago to go out on his own—will shutter his first restaurant at 2700 W. Chicago Ave.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” Baker said. “We announced it about a week ago to the staff.”
Bar Marta opened in November 2015 and on Sunday Baker had few words about the decision to close. Many of Bar Marta’s 12 staffers will find jobs at Baker’s West Loop restaurant, WonFun/2Fun Chinese. He is selling the Bar Marta space so someone else can take a crack at winning over the locals who live near that sleepy block of Chicago Avenue. The location, far away from public transportation and away from high-trafficked roads, likely contributed to the closure, Baker said.
The dark Victorian space became an inspired choice for date nights. Critics encouraged diners to seek out Bar Marta, writing about well-executed dishes like double-fried french fries and rich lamb tartare. Still, the positive buzz wasn’t enough to save the spot.
Baker thanked the regulars who supported the restaurant, and hopes they pack the place over the next week to say goodbye. Even though it’s Baker’s first restaurant that bears his Joy Hospitality imprint, he doesn't see it as a setback for the brand. WonFun is going great, he said. Baker also has a few projects in the works—but no, he wasn’t ready to share any news.
Even though there’s only five days left to dine at Bar Marta, there should be a bright future for Joy Hospitality and Baker. But eaters can come in and say farewells to his first spot on Saturday when Bar Marta shutters in Humboldt Park.