Typically, December is a time where restaurant lovers say goodbye to some of their favorites. This goes beyond the rash of temporary closures announced this week due to COVID-19 exposures. Over in West Loop, the owners of Rye Deli & Drink, the innovative restaurant that takes blends Jewish deli food with international influences, is going on hiatus starting on Thursday, December 23.
A spokesperson says the suspension was not related to a COVID exposure, but ownership wanted to take time to “reevaluate the concept.” There’s hope as the plans, for now, are to reopen in early spring with a revamped menu and chef. A restaurant spokesperson says opening chef Billy Caruso is out. The restaurant, like most others, has been struggling with staffing in recent months. One account, shared on the True West Loop Facebook group, claimed Rye closed early Wednesday due to a lack of staff.
Rye’s unique approach to deli food earned Eater Chicago “Best Fusion Restaurant” Award, with dishes such as blue corn matzo ball soup. The restaurant opened in November 2020, but never got a chance to take off during the pandemic. Inside the Crowne Plaza West Loop Hotel, guests were few and far between. The restaurant’s ambitious menus — from smoked fish to Turkish pastries — didn’t find the proper synergy within the property. The restaurant continued using its early pandemic model operation plan with counter service even after COVID restrictions were loosened earlier in 2021. The restaurant tried to turn the corner just last month with a revamped weekend brunch menu.
The space’s future is up in the air, but stay tuned for updates through out the New Year. Hopefully hotel management sees the value of a zealous restaurant near Randolph Restaurant Row, rather than settling for a tired filler concept with a generic menu that panders to tourists.