Curious, A Chef’s Playground, a Ukrainian Village restaurant from a Tru alum that opened five months ago without a regular-written menu or website, has closed—at least temporarily—less than two weeks after an unfavorable Reader review. Chef/owner Laurel Khan isn’t blaming the press—she said that the building needs major construction work at 2020 W. Chicago Ave. Khan, who runs a successful restaurant in the Pacific Northwest but returned to Chicago, shared via Facebook that she felt it was unsafe to operate Curious in the building due to problems with the roof, foundation, and electric. She’s hopeful to reopen despite losing money on her project.
Underneath the initial Facebook post, Khan called the building “totally compromised” and wrote “a chef can't work in those conditions, but city is backing me, so I have some recourse!” It’s unclear what those actions may be. One of the parties listed on the property’s deed, Martin Kam, has had problems with the city. The city of Chicago filed a lawsuit against Martin in 2007, city records show, over a housing complaint regarding a property a block west of Curious on the 2100 block of Chicago Avenue.
When Curious opened, Khan said she couldn’t provide a menu, as she would figure out what she wanted to serve on a daily basis. Much of Khan’s support comes from Chehalis, Wash., where she founded Mackinaw’s Restaurant. That’s evident in the many positive comments left on Facebook.
Khan remained upbeat and used inspiration from a Curious George book: “There will be bumps in the road. The trick is to get right back on your bike and pop a wheelie!” Stay tuned for any further news on whether it reopens.
UPDATE: Rats. That’s what Khan blames for closing her restaurant. She told DNAinfo that the building had a rodent problem, with droppings in the kitchen and rats chewing through table linens. The landlord, Kam, told DNAinfo that three of Khan’s rent checks bounced. Khan said her attorney advised her to stop paying rent until all problems were fixed. Kam also denies there are problems with the foundation. A health inspection from Feb. 9 didn’t mention rat problems. Khan is considering moving the restaurant.