Le Bouchon, Bucktown’s storied French restaurant, should be closed for a month for repairs after a fire earlier this week that severely damaged the kitchen in between lunch and dinner services.
Co-owner Oliver Poilevey tells Eater the Tuesday afternoon fire started inside the wall next to the grill: “After 30 years of this grill being next to the wall, it finally sparked up,” he says.
The restaurant, 1958 N. Damen Avenue, was closed to customers during the time of the fire and no one was hurt. Firefighters arrived quickly responding to the call around 4 p.m. Poilevey says the fire left huge holes in the walls. The wall will have to be rebuilt and equipment will need to be replaced. Poilevey predicts they’ll close for about a month, give or take about a week.
Poilevey and his brother, Nicolas, own Le Bouchon, taking over their parents’ restaurant. Their father, the late Jean-Claude Poilevey, was a beloved figure in Chicago’s culinary scene. The chef and wife, Susanne, also created a second restaurant, Le Sardine, which closed during the pandemic after 22 years in the West Loop. The couple were ambassadors for French culture in Chicago. Jean-Claude died in 2016 and Susanne died in 2019 from cancer. Their sons took over the restaurants and have also been active with Culinary Care, a cancer charity that holds fundraisers with top local chefs.
Oliver Poilevey heard about the news secondhand as he was in Mexico for a short trip from Monday through Thursday. He says this was the first major fire at any of his restaurants. While the Poilevey brothers own two other restaurants, Taqueria Chingon in Bucktown, and Obelix in River North, there’s no need to transfer Le Bouchon workers. Oliver Poilevey says insurance will cover their salaries while the restaurant is closed and repairs. An adjuster has already visited Le Bouchon. Even though restaurants struggled with insurance claims during the pandemic, apparently Le Bouchon carries “the Cadillac of insurance” and they’ll be all right after the fire.
If diners miss the French food at Le Bouchon, Poilevey tells them they can always visit Eater Chicago’s 2022 Restaurant of the Year, Obelix. They serve Le Bouchon’s famous French onion soup and the wine list, curated by Nicolas, is pretty formidable.