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Lizzy J Cafe’s Pop-Up Pivot and Four More Closures to Know

A running log of Chicago restaurants and bars that are closed

a “sorry, we’re closed” sign posted above a restaurant interior
Lizzy J Cafe hopes to open in a new location.
Eater

Fall is here in Chicago and locals have swapped out summery drinks and dishes for pumpkin spice-flavored everything. Well into its third year of wrangling with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic (yes, it’s still happening), the city’s hospitality industry experiencing staffing shortages, sky-high food costs, and would-be patrons who are dining out less due to inflation.

Below, Eater is cataloging both temporary and permanent restaurant closures in Chicago. If you know of a restaurant, bar, or another food establishment that has closed, please email chicago@eater.com. We will continue to update this post.

For winter and spring closures, go here.

September 30

It’s true: Lizzy J Cafe is closed permantly in North Center. The breakfast restaurant, known for its spicy French toast syrup and other morning specialites, closed around Easter at 2205 W. Montrose Avenue.

But chef and owner Jamie Gilmore’s story isn’t over. Gilmore says the restaurant closed due to the pandemic — she couldn’t staff properly to keep a high level of service and supply chain has been abysmal. She hopes to open a new location sometime in the winter in Aurora or Naperville. She lives in the area.

Since the closure, Gilmore has pivoted, catering and popping up across the country including in Los Angeles. Gilmore says it showed her that regardless of where they lived, people really like her food, it gave her confidence. She hasn’t given up on Chicago, but says she’ll need help for a comeback. She wants to find a business partner or franchise Lizzy J. She’s also looking for new revenue streams. There’s hope that Mariano’s will start selling the aforementioned syrup in bottles later next year on retail shelves. The grocer would be wise, because it’s one of the most unique sauces in Chicago.

In the interim, Gilmore has found a place in the city to pop up, Loft on Lake, a West Loop private event space. They’ll host a pop-up on Sunday, October 23. Tickets will go on sale on Monday, October 3. Check Lizzy J’s Instagram for more details.

Lakeview: An outpost of local brunch mini-chain Kanela Breakfast Club permanently closed over the summer after more than a decade at 3231 N. Clark Street. The location previously housed a location from another Chicago brunch brand, Orange, which in April closed its last remaining restaurant. Kanela continues to serve eggs, mimosas, and more in Andersonville, Wicker Park, Old Town, and Streeterville.

Lakeview: Smylie Brothers’ Chicago brewpub, 3027 N. Broadway, has shuttered a year after opening. The restaurant served barbecue but failed to gain traction in the urban market. Block Club Chicago has more on the story.

Lincoln Park: Cafe Luigi Pizza, a New York-style slice shop, has closed its doors on Clark Street. The reliable late-night pizzeria was a haven. The owners posted a sign at the restaurant, 2548 N. Clark Street. They had been around Chicago since 1993.

Berwyn: Despite an effort to save the restaurant, it’s curtains for one of the area’s finest encased meat merchants. Big Guys Sausage Stand, 7021 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn is closed. Beyond the inventive sandwiches, Big Guys also catered family meals. The city’s sausage scene won’t be the same.

September 7

Irving Park: 24-hour street food staple Susie’s Drive-Thru is permanently closed after nearly half a century on Montrose Avenue. The unfussy spot has been a late-night go-to for generations of Chicagoans hungry for Chicago-style hot dogs, cheesesteaks, milkshakes, and more. Founded in 1973, the business was the last remaining member of three local hot dog spots established by the Ninos family, and was named for daughter and later co-owner Susan Kandra, according to Time Out Chicago. Susie’s was arguably best known for its signature fries, served in a taco shell and doused with cheese and bacon. Fans have taken to social media to mourn: “RIP Susie’s,” Chicago DJ Caryn Robinson writes on Twitter. “Gonna miss that gargantuan order of cheese fries that disagreed with my gut so much.”

Logan Square: Wormhole 2, the ‘90s-style coffee shop spinoff of Wicker Park’s ‘80s-themed spot Wormhole, is permanently closed after two years, according to Block Club Chicago. Co-owner Dan Weiss (Dollop Coffee) tells reporters that rent costs at its Milwaukee Avenue location — just beside storied Chicago confectionary Margie’s Candies — were too high to be sustainable. The business opened in July 2020 and thus faced significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a series of events that contributed to the shop’s demise. Weiss hopes Wormhole 2’s fans and regulars will redirect their focus to the original shop, which he says is doing well.

Ravenswood: Urban Brew Labs, the four-year-old local brewery that in 2021 opened a taproom in the former Metropolitan Brewing space on Ravenswood Avenue, will permanently close after service on Sunday, September 11, ownership announced on Facebook. Located on Malt Row, the name bestowed by officials on the stretch of breweries in the Ravenswood Industrial Corridor, the taproom was known for creations like the Soul Punch smoothie sour and nightly events like trivia and knitting workshops. “There are two main reasons to open a brewery: You’re an idiot and hate money,” operators write. “Kidding. We opened to offer beer that we could share with the public and make money in the process... The natural question that comes to mind is, why are we closing? Well, the answer is simple: we didn’t sell enough beer to cover our expenses.”

River North: Though ownership told Eater Chicago in July it would reopen next year, Bernie’s Chicago, 660 N. Orleans Street, appears permanently closed. A “for lease” sign has been put up at the building. The bar and restaurant opened in 2015 from Michigan-based Peas & Carrots Hospitality. While Peas & Carrots didn’t expand much into Chicago, owner Zack Sklar remains the franchise owner of Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken’s Fulton Market location.

West Town: G&O Tavern has poured its final round. The bar closed Friday, September 2 at 459 W. Ogden Avenue. The bar opened in 2014, named for the Grand and Ogden intersection, from the same owners as Aberdeen Tap (located across the street).

August 25

Fulton Market: Modern Mexican restaurant Chikatana is permanently closed just over a year after its debut in one of Chicago’s hottest dining neighborhoods, according to a rep. Ownership group Spearhead Hospitality, also behind the Robey in Wicker Park and Canal Street Market & Eatery in the West Loop, opened Chikatana in June 2021 as a replacement for City Tap , which closed during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Due to challenges with rising costs, staffing, and a menu concept that didn’t speak to the market as anticipated, the group decided to focus efforts into their other thriving businesses...” a statement reads in part.

Lakeview: The Biscuit Man, the counter-service spot for fluffy biscuit sandwiches housed inside beer bar institution the Long Room, will permanently close after service on Sunday, August 28, owner Analia Beltran-Lang announced Wednesday on Instagram. The business was founded in 2016 by chef Zeeshan Shah (who left to open Superkhana International) and accumulated a following for its buttery, flaky biscuits. Beltran-Lang purchased the business three years later. “When I bought Biscuit Man, back in 2019, I had big plans for Biscuit Man’s future,” she writes. “Unfortunately, so did COVID. Everything has changed and it’s no longer sustainable.”

Lincoln Square: Before Billy Lawless opened the Gage, the Dawson, and Coda di Volpe, he and Malcolm Malloy opened a bar in 2002 in Lincoln Square. Lawless would depart, but the neighborhood continued to rally around the Irish pub with a long beer list and a back room with a fireplace that hosted birthdays, book releases, baby showers — pretty much any special occasion. Though the bar has evolved from when Guinness was considered the only craft beer option on a local bar’s tap, the Grafton remained a strong part of the area. But COVID has kept customers away, and this summer was particularly devastating to business for current owners Malcolm and Andrea Molloy. According to a tweet, the bar will close on Sunday, August 28 at 4530 N. Lincoln Avenue. For Lawless, who wasn’t reached for comment, this marks the end for two of his old bars. The Irish Oak, also under new ownership, closed in July after 24 years in Wrigleyville. The Malloys and Lawless remain friends.

Wicker Park: Neon Wilderness, the Milwaukee Avenue tavern that straddled the fence between old-school dive and hip cocktail lounge, will permanently close at the end of August, bartender and owner Brad Bolt announced Wednesday on Instagram. Founded in 2018 with a name plucked from Nelson Algren’s 1947 anthology, Neon Wilderness hoped to bring fresh energy to an area with an otherwise sleepy nighttime scene. For his part, Bolt emphasizes the human cost of hospitality operations during the pandemic and unstable economic times. “This bar was a very important part of my life for four years and I’m sad to let it go but it was also a great source of a lot of pain for the past couple years,” he writes. “My heart is with all of the operators that have made it this far in the pandemic and continue to make things work no matter the expense. The true expense, I’ve found, is at the personal level.”

August 8

Pilsen: Venerable Chinatown pastry spot Chiu Quon Bakery permanently closed its outpost at massive Chinese grocer and food hall 88 Marketplace due to “unforeseen circumstances,” operators announced in late July on Facebook. The family-owned institution, heralded as the oldest in Chinatown, has drawn fans since 1986 to its original location on Wentworth Avenue.

Logan Square: Mexican restaurant Ocaso is permanently closed after just under a year in business, co-owner Areerat Potikul announced in late July on Instagram. Potikul and her business partners opened Ocaso in September 2021 in the former Masa Azul space on Diversey Avenue. In November, ownership fell victim to phishing fraudsters who played havoc with the restaurant’s reservation system, shut down online orders on its website, and created a fake business page on Facebook.

Logan Square: Longtime neighborhood bar and restaurant the Rocking Horse is permanently closed after 12 years following a dispute between owner Anthony Fiacchino and landlord Martin Barboza, according to Block Club Chicago. Originally founded in 2009, the Rocking Horse struggled to transition to a takeout model during Chicago’s pandemic shutdowns. Once it was able to reopen for indoor service, however, Fiacchino tells reporters that it was plagued by constant issues with the building that got in the way of regular operations. Barboza, on the other hand, claims that Fiacchino owes $150,000 for back rent and other costs, and says he addressed concerns with the building’s infrastructure as soon as he was able. Barboza reportedly served Fiacchino with an eviction notice in fall 2021. Renovations are now underway at the Milwaukee Avenue space, but Barboza declined to provide details on future plans.

West Loop: Mad Social, the creative Italian American restaurant from second generation restaurateur Gina Stefani (daughter of prolific Chicago hospitality operator Phil Stefani), has permanently closed after six years, ownership announced in early August on Facebook. A replacement is already in line to take over the space, Stefani writes. The Madison Street restaurant had sat closed from March 2020 until January 2022, and then faced the same staffing challenges as the rest of the hospitality industry, she tells Block Club.

Chiu Quon Bakery

1127 West Argyle Street, , IL 60640 (773) 907-8888 Visit Website

Urban Brew Labs

5121 North Ravenswood Avenue, , IL 60640 (773) 293-7612 Visit Website

Superkhana International

3059 West Diversey Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 661-9028 Visit Website

Brunch

644 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 265-1411 Visit Website

Kanela Breakfast Club

3231 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657 (773) 248-1622 Visit Website

Lizzy J Cafe

2205 West Montrose Avenue, , IL 60618 (773) 739-9044 Visit Website

Metropolitan Brewing

3057 North Rockwell Street, , IL 60618 (773) 754-0494 Visit Website

Chikatana

850 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 (312) 374-1620 Visit Website

The Irish Oak

3511 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657 (773) 935-6669 Visit Website

Bernie's Lunch & Supper

660 North Orleans Street, , IL 60654 (312) 624-9892 Visit Website

Next

953 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 Visit Website

Neon Wilderness

1270 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60622 Visit Website

Irving Park

, , IL

Coda di Volpe

3335 North Southport Avenue, , IL 60657 (773) 687-8568 Visit Website

The Counter

5779 Wilshire Boulevard, , CA 90036 (323) 932-8900 Visit Website

mEAT

215 E Chestnut St, Chicago, IL 60611 Visit Website

G&O Chicago

459 N Ogden Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 Visit Website

Mad Social

1140 West Madison Street, , IL 60607 (312) 243-2097 Visit Website

Ever

1330 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 Visit Website

The Biscuit Man

1612 Irving Park Road, , IL 60613 (773) 665-8210 Visit Website

Tweet

5020 North Sheridan Road, , IL 60640 (773) 728-5576 Visit Website

Cafe Luigi Pizza

2548 North Clark Street, , IL 60614 (773) 404-0200 Visit Website

After

1338 W. Fulton Street, Chicago, IL Visit Website

The Dawson

730 West Grand Avenue, , IL 60654 (312) 243-8955 Visit Website

The Gage

24 South Michigan Avenue, , IL 60603 (312) 372-4243 Visit Website

Second Generation

3057 West Logan Boulevard, , IL 60647 (773) 904-7620 Visit Website

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