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bar biscay, interior, restaurant, bar
Photograph: Eugene (Huge) Galdones Bar Biscay

These 31 notable Chicago restaurants and bars have now permanently closed

Bid farewell to the local greats that won't be reopening in Chicago.

By Morgan Olsen
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Many Chicago restaurants have already reopened, welcoming back guests for the first time since they were ordered to close down 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 West Loop stalwart La Sardine. 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.

Permanent restaurant and bar closures in Chicago

Lawry's The Prime Rib
Lawry's The Prime Rib
Photograph: Courtesy Lawry's The Prime Rib

Lawry’s The Prime Rib

Iconic downtown steakhouse Lawry's will close at the end of the year, dishing out its final dinner service on New Year's Eve. The Los Angeles import settled into its home in the McCormick Mansion back in 1974 and became a fast favorite for its decadent prime rib, soul-warming Yorkshire pudding and mesmerizing spinning bowl salad. Over the coming months, devotees can attend behind-the-scenes tours of the historic mansion, partake in holiday celebrations and—of course—have one last prime rib dinner.

Fay Willy's
Fay Willy's
Photograph: Erica Gannett

Fat Willy’s Rib Shack

Bo Fowler's longtime Logan Square barbecue joint Fat Willy's will shutter for good after serving its final meal on Sunday, September 27. "It’s with deep gratitude and a true shade of sadness that we are announcing our closure at the end of this month," reads a heartfelt Facebook post from the restaurant. "... We have been serving the neighborhood for 19+ years and we have been humbled and honored to serve so many incredible guests. Many of you became a special part of our lives and it was an amazing thing to feed you all."

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 Southport Lanes
 Southport Lanes
Photograph: Courtesy Southport Lanes

Southport Lanes

Beloved Lakeview bar Southport Lanes announced that it will permanently shutter on Sunday, September 27. The 98-year-old boozy bowling alley and billiards hall has an illustrious history in Chicago. It was built back in 1900 by the Schlitz Brewing Company and has lived many lives since, including incarnations as a speakeasy, a brothel, a gambling facility, a beer hall and a polling place. The building underwent significant remodels in 1991 and again in 2003, and these days, Southport Lanes is a beloved neighborhood joint that specializes in craft beer and pub grub with a side of bowling and billiards.

U.B. Dogs

With foot traffic down in the Loop, popular lunch haunt U.B. Dogs was forced to close after a decade of slinging dogs, brats, burgers and sandwiches. "While it breaks our hearts to announce our permanent closure, we wanted to take the time and properly thank our customers and family for their support over these last 10 years," reads a farewell post on the restaurant's Facebook page.

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Redmond’s Ale House

Wrigleyville sports bar Redmond's Ale House went out on a high note in mid-September: The day before it closed, the Minnesota bar showed the first Vikings game of the season. "There are not enough words to express all the memories that have happened within our walls or how much we will truly miss all of you," a final Facebook post reads. "Thank you for your patronage. Thank you for your support. Just thank you for being a part of Redmond's." Eater Chicago first reported the story, noting that a rental listing for the venue is now available online.

Wells Street Market
Wells Street Market
Photograph: Courtesy Wells Street Market

Wells Street Market

Throughout its two-plus years in business, this Loop food hall hosted vendors like Firecakes, Piggie Smalls, Tempesta Market, Furious Spoon, FARE and Pork & Mindy's. But with many Chicagoans still working from home, the Loop doesn't get the weekday foot traffic it used to. Management remains hopeful that one day it might be able to resurrect their once-successful concept: "It is still unclear what the future will hold for the Wells Street Market, but we hope for the possibility of reopening one day when life goes back to some sense of normalcy," a press release reads.

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Passerotto
Passerotto
Photograph: Mistey Nguyen

Passerotto

Time Out restaurant critic Maggie Hennessy practically sang about her five-star dining experience at Passerotto, the  Italian-influenced Korean-American eatery from Jennifer Kim. Unfortunately, the Andersonville restaurant closed up shop on September 12. "The neighborhood, the guests and the community have shared with us the most memorable 3 years we’ve experienced in a long line of phenomenal memories," a note on the website reads. "Thank you to all who have spent time within our four walls; thank you to all of you who have supported, nurtured and guided our connections to each other."

Ronny’s Steakhouse

It's hard to imagine the Loop without this iconic cafeteria-style steakhouse. After nearly 60 years of hospitality, Ronny's is turning off its neon sign for good and permanently closing its doors. Management posted a heartfelt message on Facebook, reading in part: "From the corner of Randolph and State to Clark and Lake and all the locations in between, Ronny’s has stood as a beacon welcoming all of Chicago, and those from around the globe, into our dining room and family. For this, we will be eternally grateful."

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La Sardine

After 22 years in the West Loop, La Sardine has reached institution status thanks to its classic French fare and welcoming environs. The Chicago Tribune first reported that the restaurant has closed permanently due to coronavirus and a broken air-conditioning unit that would have cost $80,000 to repair. "We have seen the [West Loop] change completely but we have tried to remain consistent, delicious, but most of all that old school place that knows your name and is excited to see you again!" management wrote in a tear-inducing Instagram post. Sister spot Le Bouchon remains open for all of your French cravings.

harold's fried chicken
harold's fried chicken
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Harold’s Chicken Shack #55

Real Chicagoans know that the Harold's Chicken Shack on 87th Street has long been considered the crème de la crème of the franchise's locations. Owner Percy Billings says that he was forced to shutter the outpost at the end of July due to a rent spike. Devotees can still find the mild-sauce–smothered fried chicken and a few blocks east at Billings's Harold's Express location at 8653 S State Street.

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Guthrie’s Tavern

This Wrigleyville institution cited heightened restrictions on bars due to COVID-19 as the primary reason for its demise. Guthrie's served its last round on July 23: "We have loved serving you for the past 34 years. We got to meet and know so many amazing wonderful people. Amazing people who turned into regulars, who turned into close friends and it was an absolute pleasure to get to know you all," management wrote in a Facebook post.

Farmhouse

The rustic, farm-themed eatery just off the Chicago Brown Line is closing its doors for good. Farmhouse served the River North neighborhood for nearly 10 years, specializing in hearty brunch dishes, stacked burgers, addictive cheese curds and a lineup of innovative cocktails.

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bar biscay, interior, restaurant, bar
bar biscay, interior, restaurant, bar
Photograph: Eugene (Huge) Galdones

Bar Biscay

One of the city's most exciting restaurants closes its doors after less than three years in West Town. "The time has come to say goodbye to our groovy, Atlantic-coast inspired French-Spanish-Basque funhouse, our Oasis of Joy," partner Scott Worsham wrote in a Facebook post. "Due to factors beyond our control, in addition to COVID-19, we have been forced to end our journey with Bar Biscay."

Tantrum

South Loop club and cocktail lounge Tantrum permanently shuttered following a 12-year run, as first reported by Eater Chicago. The Black-owned establishment signed off via Instagram, with a message that read in part, "Tantrum meant a lot to many people. For the more seasoned party goers, when we first opened it was the spot you just chilled at and it became your "Black Neighborhood Cheers." For those that are in their late 20s to mid 30s we were your first party spot, some couldn’t wait to turn 21 to go to Tantrum."

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Bite Cafe

After decades of holding it down in Ukrainian Village, the Empty Bottle's longtime neighbor Bite Cafe is no more. But it's not all doom and gloom: Opening in its place is Pizza Friendly Pizza, a new venture from hospitality group 16" On Center and chef Noah Sandoval (Oriole, Kumiko, Kikko), who bring Sicilian-style pan pizza to the nabe.

blackbird
blackbird
Photograph: Doug Fogelson

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.

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Rickshaw Republic

It's lights out for Rickshaw Republic, a vibrant Indonesian restaurant located in the heart of Lincoln Park. The BYOB-friendly spot was beloved for its jackfruit curry, coconut-scented rice and bala bala fritters.

Eden

Citing the "larger economic impact resulting from the coronavirus pandemic," the owners of Eden will shut down the breezy West Loop restaurant after dinner service on Saturday, July 18. Executive chef Devon Quinn will keep Eden's leafy spirit alive by moving his on-site greenhouse beds to a nearby garden project.

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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
Bad Hunter
Photograph: Anthony Tahlier

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.

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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."

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.

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Café Cancale, oysters
Café Cancale, oysters
Photograph: Marcin Cymmer

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.

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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.

CC Ferns
CC Ferns
Photograph: Kari Skaflen

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.

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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
Income Tax
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

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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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 reads: "I can't adequately express how much I will miss working with my staff and serving customers who have shared so much of their lives with me."

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luella's southern kitchen
luella's southern kitchen
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

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.

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