Acadia, the two Michelin-starred restaurant from Ryan McCaskey will not reopen, the chef and owner confirms to Eater Chicago. Earlier this month, “for lease” signs went up above the South Loop restaurant marking the official end of McCaskey’s time in Chicago. The restaurant actually closed in July 2020 shortly after a shockwave of allegations were levied against McCaskey by former employees. At the time, McCaskey said he planned to quickly reopen.
McCaskey has since moved to Maine, where he runs another restaurant, Acadia House Provisions. McCaskey says the ongoing pandemic changed his mind to reopen in Chicago. In a statement to Eater, he writes “we decided to close Acadia because of the mounting obstacles of owning a business, especially a restaurant business in Chicago.”
“Rising crime, burglary attempts, staffing shortages and declining revenue at our price point also forced us to shut the doors,” a portion of McCaskey’s statement reads.
The chef also mentions that he wants to focus on himself and his health, wanting to explore smaller markets across the country, including rural areas. He also may consider opening a restaurant in a foreign country. Acadia debuted in 2010.
“After 29 years in the business, including 10 years of running Acadia, I wanted to spend more time with family, get physically healthy, work on relationships and travel — things I never had time for,” he writes. “With the continuing uncertainty of COVID creating such a cloudy outlook, now seems like a perfect time to start a new chapter.”
McCaskey remains tied up with a lawsuit filed against him by former Acadia server Cody Nason. Nason alleges McCaskey spearheaded a nasty harassment campaign involving emails from a person posing as Nason’s deceased brother. Nason’s legal team says the campaign was retaliation for Nason sharing details of an allegedly toxic work environment at Acadia. Many of those details were anonymously shared via an Instagram account The86dlist. The account, which served as an aggregator for Chicago restaurant workplace stories of bad actors, went dormant in July 2020.
McCaskey and his attorney, Roger Malavia, maintain McCaskey’s innocence. The next court date is scheduled for November 4. McCaskey’s camp says “the case is not close to resolution as we are still in the middle of discovery.”
It may be difficult to separate Acadia’s demise from its impact during the restaurant’s heyday. It brought fine dining to the South Side of Chicago, a swath ignored by upscale restaurant groups. It was the only Michelin-starred restaurant south of Roosevelt Road for years, and featured a beautiful dining room that rivaled any of the country’s best restaurants. The tire guide described Acadia’s cooking as “ambitious, precise, and deliciously technical.”
Acadia also had a bar where locals who didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on dinner could grab a burger and drink, granting customers a level of accessibility that’s been copied by other fine dining restaurant owners in recent years.
McCaskey achieved a level of national attention, appearing at events across the country. The chef was born in Vietnam and brought to America as a child to suburban Chicago. His success enabled him to live his version of the American dream.