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CC Ferns
Photograph: Kari Skaflen C.C. Ferns Coffee

These notable Chicago restaurants and bars have now permanently closed

Bid farewell to the local greats that won't be returning after lockdown.

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Many Chicago restaurants have already started reopening, welcoming back guests for the first time since they were ordered to close back in March. But there are also plenty of local bars and restaurants that will shutter permanently due to COVID-19 and the financial strain of being closed for months on end.

Here, we're paying tribute to some of the most notable Chicago closures, from wine bar Income Tax and chicken shop Luella's Gospel Bird to diner stalwart Jeri's Grill. This list is by no means exhaustive, but we'll be sure to keep it updated as we find out about additional departures in the coming months. For now, take a look at some of the noteworthy restaurants and bars that won't be returning to Chicago's dining scene.

Blackbird: Partners Paul Kahan and Donnie Madia told the Chicago Tribune that the decision to shutter 22-year-old Blackbird wasn't easy, but that operating a cozy restaurant at just 25 percent capacity wasn't a feasible business model moving forward. Blackbird opened back in 1997 as a pioneer of the West Loop neighborhood, long before it was the flashy dining destination it is today. In addition to holding a Michelin star for eight years, it has also hosted some of Chicago's best chefs, including Elske's David Posey, Pretty Cool Ice Cream's Dana Cree, Gaijin's Paul Virant and, most recently, Ryan Pfeiffer.

Crown Liquors: It's the end of an era for this iconic corner "slashie" that's situated on the border between Avondale and Logan Square. Block Club Chicago offers a look back at Crown Liquors' illustrious and longstanding history.

Bad Hunter: Heisler Hospitality's veg-forward West Loop restaurant Bad Hunter quietly shuttered in late June, citing safety and financial concerns directly tied to the COVID-19 pandemic as culprits for the decision. It's not all doom and gloom: Later this summer, the hospitality group will debut Pizza Lobo in Logan Square, a concept that was born while the Bad Hunter crew was recovering from a kitchen fire in 2018. 

Fahlstrom's Fresh Fish Market: Owner Glenn Fahlstrom penned a heartfelt farewell that chronicles the struggles many restaurants will face in the coming months: "The new restaurant model is asking owners to put employees in harms way so that their business can possibly survive. That's an 'acceptable risk' I cannot take."

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From Owner Glenn Fahlstrom: It is with eternal gratitude that i want to thank every customer that has walked thru my doors in the last six years. Sadly the music has stopped and is being replaced with fear and confusion. The new restaurant model is asking owners to put employees in harms way so that their business can possibly survive. That is an "acceptable risk" i cannot take. The restaurant business as i know it is gone and will not return for years. It was hard enough when the playing field was supposedly level, now it is tilted beyond recognition. So, i am closing Fahlstrom's Fresh Fish Market. I am afraid i will not be the only one. At 50% capacity it will be impossible to generate enough revenue to meet the "old expenses" model, and with the new onerous restrictions put in place for servicing customers, it looks nothing like a restaurant should and more like someone at a freeway ramp asking for help. So i am closing Fahlstrom's Fresh Fish Market. May i suggest if you need any type of seafood you call Dirk's Fish Market on Clybourn ave. (773-404-3475) he is a good man. I will miss all of you and all of my employees...i will be back.... I can be reached at anytime at 773-504-3937...feel free to call Much Love to everyone...Glenn

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Davanti Enoteca: You'll have to drive out to Western Springs to get your hands on this Italian restaurant's prosciutto-veal meatballs or focaccia with honeycomb, as the Taylor Street locations has permanently shuttered.

Café Cancale: This oyster-slinging, French-inspired bistro shutters just a year after it came onto the scene, replacing Publican Anker in Wicker Park. In a goodbye letter on its website, One Off Hospitality partners write that "while the decision to close is a difficult one, the realities that restaurants across the country face are truly sobering.

Jeri's Grill: Lincoln Square stalwart Jeri's Grill is throwing in the towel after more than 50 years of 24-7 service. "Unfortunately the past can no longer survive in this post pandemic world," a letter on the diner's door reads.

25 Degrees: After nine years in River North, the lights are going out at this beloved burger bar that was known for its loaded patties and spiked milkshakes.

California Clipper + C.C. Ferns: In May, restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff shuttered his two Humboldt Park spots, late-night cocktail den California Clipper and cool coffee shop C.C. Ferns, citing an inability to reach an agreement with the building's landlord. However, according to reporting from Block Club Chicago, landlord Gino Battaglia said Sodikoff stopped paying rent and ignored offers to reduce or defer rent.

Links Taproom: Lauded as one of the best craft beer bars in Chicago, Links will always have a presence in Chicago, but it just won't be on Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park. Management hints that "this is not the end... it is simply a new beginning. Keep an eye on their Instagram account for pop-up booze and food offerings.

Income Tax: This award-winning Edgewater wine bar announced its plans to permanently shutter back in May, thanking customers and staff for their support throughout the years and during quarantine, when they operated a socially distanced wine shop out of their storefront. 

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Hey Friends, _ It’s not easy to say, but it is time for Income Tax to close. We will not re-open after the shut-down ends. It’s been an honor to serve diners and drinkers in Edgewater and Chicago as a proud member of one of the best restaurant communities in the world. To our friends in the business: great luck to you, and godspeed. _ To those who were a member of our team: you’re the best, and deserve a fat shout-out for making Income Tax a place celebrated for service and quality. You’ve made us proud through the years. _ To our customers: thank you for supporting us. New staff members frequently commented that our customers were the best they had served. We wish we could serve you one more time. _ All that said, we’ve still got wine and booze to sell. Virtual Somm service available via email or phone.

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Luella's Gospel Bird: Chef Darnell Reed decided to close his spinoff chicken shop in Bucktown in May, but you can still get your hands on his cooking in Lincoln Square, where his first restaurant, Luella's Southern Kitchen, is still slinging shrimp and grits, fried chicken and beignets.

Mindy's HotChocolate: After serving Bucktown for 15 years, Mindy's HotChocolate closed to make way for Mindy's Bakery, chef Mindy Segal's brand-new concept that deals in bagels, bialys, cookies and cakes.

Toast: With an impressive 24 years under its belt, beloved brunch haunt Toast is no more. Owner Jeanne Roeser wrote a lengthy letter to faithful customers and staff, which can read below.

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Love you all

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