It’s January and there’s another sign that restaurants in Logan Square are struggling. Big Kids, the irreverent sandwich shop and bar started by Ryan Pfieffer, a chef with fine dining roots, will close next month.
The crew made the announcement on Thursday afternoon. Embodying Pfeiffer’s spirit, the post was made in all-caps. “WE JUST WANT TO SAY THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS FOR ALL THE LOVE AND SUPPORT YOU HAVE SHOWN US,” the post reads. “IT HAS BEEN AN ABSOLUTE PLEASURE PARTYING WITH YALL.”
Pfeiffer tells Eater that they weren’t busy enough during the winter months to keep the doors open: “As an independent restaurant, we don’t really have anything to fall back on,” he says. “We rely on people coming in as much as they can come in.”
Big Kids’ last day at 2545 N. Kedzie Boulevard, is Sunday, February 4.
The restaurant debuted in October 2020 as a carry-out only venue while the world adjust to life during COVID. Pfeiffer, an alum of Blackbird — a beloved West Loop restaurant from the same owners as Publican and Big Star — would team with Mason Hereford, the chef of a New Orleans sandwich shop, Turkey & the Wolf. Big Kids would eventually open up its dining room and serve alcohol. One of those drinks was neon green in honor of Hi-C’s Ecto Cooler drink, a 1987 product tie-in to the real Ghostbusters.
The environment dove into ‘80 and ‘90s nostalgia with a playful menu including a twist on Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap. These were creative sandwiches without a hint of snobbery. In March 2022, Time Out Market brought them on as a vendor, bringing a little fun, and the signature Shiddyburger, to the Fulton Market food hall.
“I think we were very successful in maintaining a happy disposition, trying to instill that into the people coming in,” Pfeiffer says.
Just last week, the owner of another Logan Square restaurant, Don Bucio’s Taqueria, told Eater that the neighborhood remained stunned from the pandemic, and that business was still shaky. Rodolfo Cuadros said many restaurants were feeling the sting as Logan Square just wasn’t drawing as many customers as it did before 2020. Don Bucio’s remains open for carryout and delivery, but Cuadros made the difficult decision to close the dining room earlier this month.
Still, Big Kids enjoyed a strong three-year-run during one of the most challenging times to run a restaurant in American history. It brought stability to a corner space where Johnny’s Grill and Mezcaleria Los Flores stood. Young Americans was a placeholder in 2019, but despite its creative goth bread and CBD drinks, the pandemic doomed its chances for success.
Last year, Pfieffer took a job to overhaul Dusek’s in Pilsen, creating a tasting menu for Thalia Hall’s flagship restaurant. He would leave in August. Dusek’s ownership, 16” on Center, which also own Revival Food Hall and Salt Shed, have since closed the restaurant, with plans to eventually replace it.
Pfeiffer says it’s too early to ponder his next step, but he’s “very, very happy with family life.
Right now, he’s focusing on ensuring remaining workers have a solid workplace. Additionally, Pfeiffer has no word on what may take Big Kids’ place. Stay tuned for details and fans can visit Big Kids one last time before it closes on Sunday, February 4.