May 9, 2021

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Free For All Food

Fiore’s Italian Deli to Close After More Than Half a Century, and Four More Closures



a sign above a store: Fiore’s Italian Deli will close this month after more than 50 years.


© Fiore’s Delicatessen [Official Photo]
Fiore’s Italian Deli will close this month after more than 50 years.

Indoor dining has resumed in Chicago, with reduced capacities remaining in place even as the state loosened rules on Sunday. The change comes as a positive piece of news for some restaurant owners who have welcomed customers into their dining rooms — with masks and six-foot separation between tables.

For many Chicago restaurants and bars, however, a limited reopening does little to keep their businesses solvent, with caps on capacity and fears about exposing as-yet unvaccinated workers to the public leaving operators in limbo.

Numerous restaurants are still hibernating, electing to remain closed until the virus is quelled, while temporarily closing their venues. Workers continue to face difficult decisions regarding their careers, potential exposure to COVID-19 from colleagues and patrons, and a lack of financial support from state and federal governments.

Below, Eater is cataloging both temporary and permanent restaurant closures in Chicago. If you know of a restaurant, bar, or other food establishment that has closed since the start of the pandemic, please email [email protected] We will continue to update this post.

February 2

Bucktown: Stone Flower, chef Jacob Bickelhaupt’s follow-up to Michelin-starred 42 Grams, is permanently closed at 1952 N. Damen Avenue. First opened in May 2019, Stone Flower briefly transitioned to takeout during the pandemic — its last on-premise service held before the state closed restaurants in March 2020. The shutter happened over the summer, as Bickelhaupt has moved to Denver. But news popped up in January that another fine dining restaurant, Claudia, would take over the space. The building housed restaurants from celebrity chefs Stephanie Izard (Scylla) and Takashi Yagihashi (Takashi). In June 2017, Bickelhaupt suddenly closed 42 Grams. A month later he pled guilty to attacking his ex-wife, Alexa Welsh, who managed the restaurant.

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Edgewater: Summer Noodles and Rice, a BYOB Thai and pan-Asian spot on Granville Avenue, is permanently closed, according to a Facebook post. It first opened in 2007. Sister restaurant Indie Cafe, also in Edgewater, remains open.

Lakeview: Neighborhood sports bar Avenue Tavern has permanently closed and a “for lease” sign hangs in the window on Broadway and Oakdale where it operated for more than 18 years. The bar boosted for teams including Michigan State and Detroit Tigers and served burgers and beer for more than 18 years. The bar gained infamy last year after a tweet showed customers on a sidewalk huddled under plastic wrap to escape the rains.

Lincoln Square: Red Lion Lincoln Square, the popular British pub that opened in 2010, has closed. Not to be confused with the “haunted” Lincoln Park location that has been temporarily closed during the pandemic (the owners of both taverns were once collaborations on that pub, but a dispute led to a split, which led to the opening of the Lincoln Square location). The now-shuttered North Side location, 4749 N. Rockwell, had carved its own identity as a cozy neighborhood spot with more of an emphasis on British culture and food rather than the bells and whistles offered at the renovated spot in Lincoln Park. The Rockwell location was victimized last year by a fake GoFundMe campaign. Fans should look out as the Red Lion should return as a pop-up inside the Dank Haus in Lincoln Square.

Ukrainian Village/West Town: Family-owned Italian stalwart Fiore’s Delicatessen will permanently close on February 15 after more than 40 years, ownership confirmed in a neighborhood Facebook group. Husband and wife Michael and Carmela Fiore first opened the business in 1970 on the corner of Oakley and Erie as a candy store and slowly expanded into a full-fledged deli. Now they want to retire.

“This is the last week of business & Mamma Carmela Nuccia Fiore just made some fresh homemade lasagna so stop in & stock up before it’s all gone,” daughter Florinda Fiore writes. The deli fostered a loyal following in the city and developed a reputation for its pepper and egg sandwiches, usually associated with Lent. Fans have about two weeks to say goodbye.

January 15

Around Town: Pop-up ramen bar Mujo Ramen has ceased all operations after its rental kitchen closed, effectively shutting down its food truck, according to a rep. It primarily held events at Chicago area breweries before the pandemic. The business could return in the future but there isn’t currently a reopening timeline.

Lakeshore East: Downtown steakhouse III Forks is permanently closed after nearly a decade on Field Boulevard beside Lake Shore East Park, according to a rep. The 200-seat restaurant first opened in 2011 with a 1960s-era vibe. The company continues to operate locations in its hometown of Dallas, plus Austin, Texas, and Jacksonville and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Lincoln Square: The windows at Thai Room, one of Chicago’s oldest Thai restaurants, are papered over and a sign in the window declares that Sushi & Beyond will soon open in the Western Avenue space, according to LTHForum. First opened in 1979, the restaurant was owned by chef Chanpen “Pen” Ratana, who also operated Thai Room 2 and Thai Borrahn in Chicago and Thai Sookdee in suburban Evanston. The restaurant, which was a pioneer in luring other Thai businesses to Irving Park Road and Western Avenue — traditionally a German enclave — now joins Opart Thai House in leaving the neighborhood. A few remain nearby including Sticky Rice, Spoon Thai, and 44-year-old Rosded.

Mag Mile: As tourists and office workers avoid Downtown Chicago, a venerable hot dog stand near Michigan Avenue has closed after 26 years. The Tribune reports Downtown Dogs will close on January 30. Those staying in downtown hotels have few options for a real Chicago-style hot dog experience other than Al’s Italian Beef or Portillo’s. The same owners also were behind Gold Coast Dogs, which can hopefully survive.

Montclare: Longtime Italian spot Ristorante Agostino has temporarily closed after more than three decades, according to a Facebook post in early January. “We are closing for a winter break while we await the return of indoor dining,” the post reads. “This was an incredibly difficult decision especially after celebrating 35 years in business!” The restaurant first opened in 1985, according to its website.

Pilsen: Family-owed Mexican stalwart Canton Regio is closed and an orange BACP sticker is affixed to its door on 18th Street. “Business closed by order of city of Chicago,” the sticker, dated January 14, reads. In a Facebook post, ownership states in English and Spanish that the restaurant is closed until further notice “due to license and corporation issues,” but that they will update followers on a reopening date. Owners formerly operated generations-old restaurant Nuevo Leon across the street from Canton Regio. It was destroyed in a 2015 fire after 53 years.

January 12

Douglas Park: Lagunitas Brewing probably won’t reopen its Chicago taproom this year due to the pandemic, according to the Tribune. The company plans to wait until 2022 — and for scientific evidence that most Americans have received the COVID-19 vaccine — to welcome drinkers back inside. It is, however, considering setting up an outdoor pop-up taproom over the summer. A destination that’s drawn beer fans across the city and country, the Lagunitas taproom first opened above the brewery in 2014 as a way for the California-based company to increase distribution toward the East Coast.

Gold Coast: European-style spot Cafe Crèmerie is closed, owner Lisa Gasparian writes in an Instagram post. “I won’t forget the people, the sweet kids and all the families that walked through those doors,” the caption reads beside a photograph of the gutted cafe space. Last year she converted her business from a franchise location of Amorino to an independent shop as a response to the pandemic. Gasparian has been critical of elected officials in how she perceives they’ve left downtown vulnerable to violence without providing proper financial aid. Despite the change, Gasparian indicates that she has plans for the future: “Stay tuned… a virus will NOT beat me. #CafeCremerie 2.0 in #2021.”

Ravenswood: Longtime neighborhood breakfast spot Over Easy Cafe is closed indefinitely due to staffing and other issues, ownership announced on Monday via Facebook. “We are doing everything we can to keep Over Easy going, and will update all of you in the OE Fam as soon as we can,” the post reads. The cafe first opened in 2006 and reopened after a fire in early 2007.

River North: Adagio Teas State Street permanently closed in early January, according to a Facebook post. The New Jersey-based company also operates two suburban Chicago locations in Naperville and Old Orchard Mall in Skokie. These shops remain open.

For a list of the 2020 spring/summer/fall closings, click here.

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