Robert Et Fils, an intimate pandemic-born French restaurant and first solo endeavor from chef Rob Shaner, is permanently closed after two-and-a-half years in North Center. Shaner announced news of the then-impending shutter in late January on Instagram and held its final service on Friday, February 3, a rep confirms.
“For me, the restaurant closure is about two things,” Shaner writes in an email. “One is that it’s becoming exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to run a restaurant like mine. That was the main factor. That’s what led to the closure; the math didn’t work no matter how I adjusted it.” In addition to economic obstacles, he says he’s also reconsidering the role he wants to play in society at large. “For me personally, though, I now recognize that I need to be outside of the kitchen fighting ‘the good fight.’ I’m not sure what that will look like now, but I’m getting some ideas together.”
Founded in August 2020, Robert Et Fils didn’t open in the way Shaner, formerly of Royal Grocer and the Kennison, had imagined when made his plans for the restaurant public in late 2019. Instead of ushering patrons into an elegant and cozy dining room, he launched with a family-style to-go menu out of the space at 4229 N. Lincoln Avenue, previously home to chef Iliana Regan’s (Milkweed Inn, Elizabeth) Japanese-influenced spot Kitsune. It also housed the second location of Bunny, the bakery that produced an adorable slice of foie gras toast.
As time passed and mitigation rules changed, Shaner and his team instituted patio service, and in late 2021 at last began welcoming dine-in patrons, albeit with limited weekend-only hours. But after more than a year of waiting, the team finally could finally turn its attention to Shaner’s original vision: a seven- to ten-course French-style tasting menu that rotated twice seasonally. He hit the ground running with a $205 nine-course opening menu featuring Lièvre à La Royale, a classic French dish made with wild hare meat and blood.
“I am so incredibly proud of all that we have done at Robert Et Fils, but, unfortunately, it’s time to let go,” he writes on Instagram. “I can promise we held on as long as we could... Please realize you all made a dream come true.”