Chef Curtis Duffy and general manager Michael Muser have left their posts at Grace, the acclaimed West Loop restaurant the duo founded five years ago, according to The New York Times. The fine-dining destination is one of just 14 restaurants in the country to be honored with three Michelin stars.
The New York Times reports that both departures are due to “a dispute with the wealthy Chicago real estate investor who owns [Grace].” Duffy and Muser were reportedly in the process of trying to buy the space and become owners. Chicago food editor Kevin Pang, who while working for the Chicago Tribune co-directed a documentary on Duffy, gave the following statement to The New York Times:
“It came down to ownership, plain and simple. As much as Curtis Duffy and Michael Muser were the faces of Grace, they were just employees, not employers. Restaurateurs who have achieved three Michelin stars don’t usually lack for ambition, and my sense was until they were their own bosses, they were stuck idling in neutral.”
Some Chicago restaurants are intrinsically tied to their chefs, and so is the case with Grace. From its name to the painstakingly beautiful plates to the awe-inspiring kitchen, there’s no denying that Grace is Duffy’s brainchild. Only time will tell what Duffy does next and what Grace will become without him.
Update: As first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, Grace has closed after the restaurant’s staff walked out. Majority owner Michael Olszewski gave the following statement to the paper: “This space will live to see another day with yet another great restaurant headed by a new team that will make Chicago and the restaurant community proud.”