After seven years, Ruxbin, the tiny Noble Square space that allowed chef/owner Edward Kim to fuse Korean, French, and American tastes and techniques into a laid-back fine-dining experience will close. Kim — who seven months ago remodeled the quaint, two-level restaurant at 851 N. Ashland Ave. — is calling it a sabbatical. But he won’t say for sure if and when he would reopen as Ruxbin’s last day is Sept. 10.
“Small, intimate, and cooking whatever the hell we want, it’s the cliche of what so many cooks dream of,” Kim wrote in a Facebook post. “Thank you for allowing me to live this dream, it’s been a wonderful ride from the day we opened our doors, frightened that no one would come, to long lines that would circle the block, from putting out an a la carte menu that was derided for having over-priced elotes, to pushing ourselves to bring fine dining to Noble Square. I’m so proud of how much we’ve grown and accomplished in these past seven years, and it’s fair to say that there are few during our time that have been more celebrated.”
Recent changes in economic conditions made have made it challenging for restaurants, and Ruxbin was no exception with rising health insurance costs and minimum wage increasing expenses. Ruxbin defined what a superb Chicago neighborhood restaurant could be, as Kim and his family poured their efforts into creating a unique experience. Customers could come as they were and enjoy Kim’s food anyway they wanted.
Kim’s work earned acclaim. The Beard Foundation earlier this year named him as a semifinalist for “Best Chef: Great Lakes.” Bon Appétit named Ruxbin as a “Best New Restaurant” in 2011. Ruxbin’s casual sibling, just a few blocks north on Ashland, Mott Street, appears unaffected. Kim hosted a charity dinner on Monday at Mott to benefit the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.
Kim’s crew changed the menu at Ruxbin after closing the restaurant for a month in January as they transformed the dining room into a more modern space. The previous iteration featured a whimsical and rustic feel. The space only had one bathroom. That meant it had to stay BYO, per city ordinances.
The Facebook post teased future projects and news, but their “lips are tight right now.” Kim couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Read his full statement below.
Reservations require a credit card via OpenTable, and there’s been a rush to make them. Fans have 11 days to eat dinner at Ruxbin before the shutter.