Chicago bars and restaurants are again bracing for tumult as mask mandates have returned to the city and state due to rising COVID-19 case numbers, attributed in large part to the highly-transmissible delta variant. Many owners are also still struggling with a labor shortage, and rising food prices are hitting the wallets of both operators and customers. Additionally, the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, part of the American Rescue Plan stimulus bill that was signed into law in March, ran out of money on June 30.
Below, Eater is cataloging both temporary and permanent restaurant closures in Chicago. If you know of a restaurant, bar, or other food establishment that has closed since the start of the pandemic, please email email@example.com. We will continue to update this post.
Avondale: Late-night vegan sandwich shop Moonlight Vulture will close its doors for the last time on Thursday, September 30, according to a Facebook post. “It’s been a crazy (almost) 5 years and we are thankful for loyal customers who have enjoyed the small dent we managed to make in the Chicago food scene,” write co-owners Adam Paul (Atomix Coffee Shop, Life on Mars) and Alan Leeking. The pair first opened the restaurant in 2016 at 2889 N. Milwaukee Avenue.
Chinatown: Snack Planet, the adored Chinese food vendor tucked away in the basement of Richland Center, is closed and has disconnected its phone number. Those in the know ventured to the hidden spot at 2002 S. Wentworth Avenue for fried pig kidney, spicy rabbit, and other seasoned innards.
Near West Side: Prominent local barbecue business Lexington Betty Smokehouse on Sunday, September 30 will shut down its stall at Dr. Murphy’s Food Hall in the Illinois Medical District, according to a Facebook post. Pit master Dominque Leach (Spiaggia) will continue to feature her Central Texas-meets-Memphis-style meats at her North Avenue restaurant and One Eleven Food Hall in Pullman. Leach told Eater during the summer that business was down at Dr. Murphy’s, and that she was considering closing the location.
Portage Park: Popular Italian ice spot Little Lulu’s will on Sunday, September 26 permanently close its shop at 5035 W. Montrose Avenue, according to a Facebook post. Ownership plans to relocate and expand the Little Lulu’s brand in Orlando, Florida, but their Italian ice will remain available locally at Chicago Taco Authority in Irving Park, Reggies on the Beach in Woodlawn, and Reprise Coffee in suburban Evanston.
South Loop: Longtime chicken-focused spot Chef Luciano is permanently closed as owners David and Rocky Gupta prepare to transform the space into an American restaurant called Mustard Seed, according to its website. “We would like to thank all of our loyal customers for almost 40 years of support,” they write. “At this time, we are excited to announce a re-concepting of Chef Luciano Kitchen and Chicken under the guidance of some really good friends of ours. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement from them as well as news about the future of the Chef Luciano Brand.”
West Loop: Wise Owl Drinkery & Cookhouse is permanently closed after six years at 324 S. Racine Avenue. A sports bar with televisions and tavern fare, Wise Owl in July 2020 became the first Chicago restaurant shut down for breaking COVID-19 rules. Empty shipping containers have been seen on the site, as a new owner has taken over the space. Stay tuned for more details.
Andersonville: Cafe and smoothie spot True North Andersonville in late July permanently closed its location at 5507 N. Clark Street after five and a half years, according to a Facebook post. Ownership plans to reopen in a larger space, also on Clark Street, “in a couple of months” with coffee, food, blended drinks, and new menu additions that could include ice cream and booze. True North’s outpost in Hyde Park remains open.
Portage Park: Luna Empanada Shop will close its doors on Sunday for the last time after two-and-a-half years at 6011 W. Irving Park Road, ownership announced on social media. “This has been a very tough pill to swallow but sometimes the medicine is what we need to focus on to make everything better,” the post reads. “We came out swinging and made an impact, then COVID had its IMPACT!... the reality of life is that there is not enough man power or hours in the day to improve an already fragile situation.” Block Club Chicago has more.
Wrigleyville: Smoked meat spot Wrigley BBQ closed permanently this month at 3555 N. Broadway, owner and pitmaster Mitch Liebovich announced on the restaurant’s website. Founded in 2017, it featured brisket, ribs, wings, pulled pork, and smoked chicken. Liebovich writes online that he plans to move the entire operation to Palm Springs, Florida.
Park Ridge: Popular suburban Greek diner Wally’s Restaurant permanently closed in early August after more than four decades at 1006 N. Northwest Highway, according to a Facebook post. “...After 40+ years serving the Park Ridge community it is with a heavy heart that we announce that we will be closing doors forever,” ownership writes.
Edgewater: Wine-focused bistro Broadway Cellars will permanently close on Labor Day, September 6, after 15 years and ownership is selling the business at 5900 N. Broadway, according to a Facebook post. “We fought hard to return in the spring of 2021 and it has been a remarkable recovery,” owners Tom and Geri Foley write. “However, the time has come again for us to close the door on this chapter of our lives. There is another sale in the offing to hopefully ensure Broadway Cellars Bar and Grill will continue under new direction.”
Magnificent Mile: Spiaggia, Chicago’s highly decorated Italian restaurant icon, is permanently closed after 37 years after ownership could not reach a lease compromise with its landlord at 980 N. Michigan Avenue. Founded by beloved chef Tony Mantuano in 1984, the restaurant earned Michelin stars for 12 years straight, and served as a training ground for well-known Top Chef alumni Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde) and Joe Flamm (Rose Mary).
Old Town: Wells on Wells, the neighborhood sports bar across the street from famed comedy club Second City, is permanently closed after 16 years at 1617 N. Wells Street. The bar boosted the Iowa Hawkeyes and aired games on its 60-seat outdoor beer garden.
River North: Modern Mexican chain Cantina Laredo has permanently closed its sole Chicago location at 508 N. State Street across from the Royal Sonesta Chicago hotel, according to a rep. The Texas-based company opened this location in 2011. It operates restaurants in 10 U.S. states as well as one outpost in the United Arab Emirates.
Wicker Park: Chef Bill Kim’s Pizza & Parm Shop, the delivery-only restaurant launched by lauded chef Bill Kim (Urbanbelly) during the pandemic, shut down operations on Sunday in Wicker Park, according to a Facebook post. Reps say the brand may pop up again at Urbanbelly, and will also appear at the opening of the new Purdue University student union next year in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Bucktown/Logan Square: Puerto Rican restaurant La Cocina Boricua de la Familia Galarza is permanently closed after more than 15 years and its phone number is disconnected. The cozy, colorful storefront at 2420 W. Fullerton Avenue was best known for its jibaritos with tender pork and crispy plantains.
North Center: Essential Chicago ramen shop Menya Goku, a tantanmen from the owners of Wasabi and Ramen Takeya, is temporarily closed “until further notice” at 2207 W. Montrose Avenue, according to a Facebook post. The restaurant first opened in December 2019.
South Loop: Chicago’s first outpost from Denver-based fast-casual chain Teriyaki Madness permanently closed this month at 829 S. Wabash Avenue just over a year after it debuted, according to a Facebook post. “ We loved being a part of the South Loop community, but felt the impact of the pandemic effects as a newly opened small business,” franchisees Tony Underwood and Phil Courtney write. A location in suburban Lombard remains open.
Naperville: Zabiha Halal barbecue mini-chain Anmol has permanently closed its restaurant at 1550 N Route 59 in suburban Naperville, according to a Facebook post. Instead, owners are turning the space into a catering and events facility that will serve as a showroom for potential catering customers. Anmol restaurants in West Ridge and on Milwaukee’s Historic Mitchell Street remain open.
North Center: All-you-can-eat sushi spot Wasabi Cafe permanently closed in early May after 10 years, according to its website. The restaurant shared ownership with House of Sushi and Noodles, which closed in 2015 after 13 years in Lakeview.
Old Town: Casual seafood mini-chain Surf’s Up in May permanently closed its location in Old Town after less than a year, according to a Facebook post. “My time is up here at Surf’s Up Old Town 1143 North Wells,” operator Vanetta Roy writes. “Landlord and I can not agree upon a new lease amount and $8k a month while still in COVID ain’t gone happen! When one door closes another one opens so ATL HERE I COME!!” The Old Town outpost first opened in June 2020.
Portage Park: After more than half a century, Italian deli stalwart Sicilia Bakery is closed indefinitely at 5939 W. Lawrence Avenue due to a labor shortage, ownership writes Thursday on Facebook. “We didn’t want it to come to this, but as of today our front of house is closed indefinitely due to a lack of workforce,” the post reads. Catering is still available. The business was originally founded in 1968.
Rogers Park: Neighborhood brunch spot Nibbles and Nosh is permanently closed after four years at 6981 N. Sheridan Road, according to Block Club Chicago. Owners Kat Connor and Lindzi Shanks, also behind sweets cafe and retail business XO Marshmallow, in late May announced the closure in a Facebook post.
Evanston: Suburban-based cafe Backlot Coffee on May 30 permanently closed its location at 1549 Sherman Avenue with plans to turn the space into a plant shop and retail space, according to a Facebook post. The decision was largely prompted by the impending arrival of a competing coffeeshop, ownership writes: “After the announcement of Dollop Coffee Company (@dollopcoffeeco) opening across the street, we made the difficult decision to close our doors and reimagine what kind of business would thrive on this beautiful corner of Sherman and Grove.” Locations in Old Irving Park and on Central Street in Evanston remain open.
For a list of the 2021 winter/spring closings, click here.