Chicago vegan icon Karyn Calabrese will finally close her last remaining restaurant on Sunday, July 23, 11 months after she announced her plans to shutter her Lincoln Park flagship. Though she still has her Bucktown spa, the closure at 1901 N. Halsted St. marks the end of Calabrese’s days as a restaurateur. At one point, she also ran restaurants in River North and the West Loop. Calabrese shared the news with fans via her newsletter.
Karyn’s lasted 18 years in Lincoln Park and is a polarizing spot in the vegan community. Initially, many welcomed her as a champion of the meat- and dairy-free lifestyle, which made her the face of veganism in Chicago. A former model, she cultivated relationships with celebrities and marketed her food as a healthy way to fend off old age.
Others, including former employees, alleged that she was a fraud and was merely interested in making money off of vegans. Calabrese and her husband, Jerrold “Jerry” Scherer, were also the subject of multiple lawsuits over hundreds of thousands of dollars. She eventually turned to her fans for money, establishing an online fundraising campaign, saying she needed money to keep the restaurant open.
Here’s the text of her shutter announcement:
“To My Valued Customers,
It has been an enormous pleasure and honor to serve you on your healthy living journey for the past 35 years. When I think of the thousands of people who I've met over the years and whose lives have been touched by our food, products, classes and services, I'm humbled and grateful. While change can be hard, it's also an essential and important part of our growth.
And so it is bittersweet to tell you that after 18 years I will be closing our restaurant location at 1901 N. Halsted Street. Our last day of business on Halsted will be Sunday, July 23rd.
I hope that many of you will have a chance to stop by before then to share memories of your experiences in this amazing space that has served us so well.”