Chicago’s charming cheese, charcuterie, and sandwich mini chain will close all of its locations including its beloved Lakeview outlet where it debuted 15 years ago. Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine co-owners Ken Miller and Greg O’Neill announced the impending closures of all locations in a letter posted to Facebook on Friday.
Bar Pastoral, the restaurant and bar side of the Lakeview location, closed on Sunday. But the retail half remains open through Wednesday, as does one in the Loop. The Chicago’s French Market shop — which recently added a wine bar — is now permanently shuttered.
“Unfortunately, not all dreams are meant to last forever but that does not mean they were not worth pursuing,” Miller and O’Neill wrote. “Times, consumer preferences, and shopping patterns change and we simply did not have the resources to make the types of changes necessary to sustain Pastoral for another 15 years.” O’Neill declined comment over the weekend and said the news was still too fresh for him to say anything more than what’s on the Facebook page.
The couple first launched their first shop in 2004 in Lakeview. Locals took to its focus on independent artisans who devote their lives to crafting specialty cheeses, breads, confections, and more, and owners went on to open three more locations including cheese and wine bistro Bar Pastoral beside the flagship store on Broadway in 2012. Pastoral’s Loop location was often busy during weekday lunch with downtown workers cramming into the small location for first-class sandwiches on fresh-baked bread like the iconic “Blue Pig & Fig.”
Ownership opened another new restaurant in 2015: Appellation, a three-prong Andersonville location that housed a restaurant, wine bar, and shop. Ultimately, the triple-concept space “wasn’t workable,” O’Neill told Eater, and he and Miller closed it last year. Global street food restaurant Gadabout now occupies Appellation’s prominent space on Clark Street.
Road construction on Broadway hampered traffic in front of the Lakeview location. There was also increased competition from a massive Mariano’s grocery store that was erected right across the street. Pastoral’s selection of gourmet items and rare cheeses are unique in Chicago, but it’s difficult to compete with larger companies. O’Neill and Miller have been champions of Chicago small businesses through the years.
Former Pastoral employee Randall Felts, currently at work on his own forthcoming restaurant and cheese shop Beautiful Rind, told Eater last month that many mongers and purveyors are concerned about the decline of cheese shops across the country. Still, he plans to open his cheese-focused retail, classroom, and restaurant space in early 2020. Another batch of Pastoral alums in 2016 opened Sandwiched Chicago in Lincoln Park.
The Tribune first reported this story.