Tavern on Rush is over.
In this article, I will help you make sense of the closure of the beloved restaurant, Tavern On Rush on October 26, 2022.
It happened two months sooner than the previously announced New Year’s Eve closing.
This abrupt closure is all due to the landlords ending the lease and imposing contract matters out of the restaurant owners’ control.
What is Tavern On Rush?
Tavern on Rush was a Gold Coast steakhouse that has served Chicagoland since April 1998.
Located at 1031 N. Rush Street, this was part of the Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants group.
Here people enjoyed a wide variety of classic American fare, including prime steaks and chops, fresh fish, pasta, and seasonal daily specials.
Operating on a strip dedicated to showmanship, Tavern on Rush was at the heart of the Viagra Triangle.
It featured an acoustic-tiled ceiling, racetrack tote board (with chalk), and wainscotted walls.
It was so beloved that it has been in the U.S. Top 100 Independent Restaurants List every year.
Through the years, it has employed more than 4,000 people and has served more than 8 million customers.
Significance of Tavern On Rush to Chicago
Tavern on Rush was very vital to the Gold Coast food scene.
It is a popular hangout spot for residents and celebrities alike.
Throughout its 24 years of operations, it has catered to a devoted clientele. Not only local politicians, but celebrities frequent this restaurant - from Mark Cuban to Jon Bon Jovi.
It was so successful that its business bounced back and returned to profitability from the closures early in the pandemic.
2021 was the restaurant’s best year ever.
Tavern created a synergy with neighboring restaurants like Gibsons Steakhouse and Dublin’s — and eventually newer arrivals like Maple & Ash and Nico Osteria — transforming the neighborhood.
Tavern’s was also iconic for showcasing Midwest values.
They welcomed people from all walks of life.
Phil Stefani, the owner said, “Anybody who comes in, who pays the check, they can obviously dine with us. In the 25 years, we created a great history. It was a great vibe. Every restaurant has its little niche. I think that the niche there was a meeting place where people want to be seen and also where people like to see.”
And who can forget the infamous ladies’ night?
Every Monday, the restaurant raffles off a pair of Christian Louboutin heels.
The heels, displayed in a glass box behind the bar, attract droves of women and men.
Now let’s get down to business. Why is Tavern on Rush closing?
Why is Tavern On Rush closing?
Amidst all its success in the restaurant industry, Tavern on Rush is closing for one simple reason: The landlord terminated their lease. They want to remodel the space and operate a restaurant themselves.
Originally due to close on Jan. 1, 2023, the landlord and the Tavern owners suffered from contract matters so the restaurant will close its doors earlier than planned.
Phil Stefani told their employees that the restaurant officials originally "had a verbal agreement to extend our management contract beyond its October 31 expiration date" to allow them to continue to serve customers through December 31 "and end the Tavern on Rush era fittingly at the end of the year."
But due to contractual constraints, their last day of service is October 26. So all reservations made for November and December are canceled.
Tavern on Rush officials wish their landlord luck in replicating the welcoming environment that the iconic restaurant has created.
Reservations made for November and December were canceled.
On January 27, 2023, the building’s co-owner Jim Banks announced that Bellevue will replace Tavern on Rush. Together with his co-owner, Fred Barbara, he will own the restaurant through their management company, FJ Management. There will be a bar and lounge area on the first floor and a restaurant on the second with an open kitchen. Unlike Tavern, Bellevue won't be a steakhouse. It has a planned spring opening.
Tavern On Rush may be gone, but Chicago’s unique food scene will continue to thrive and evolve.
In fact, there are a lot of new restaurants and expansions that we will feature in our upcoming posts so stay tuned!
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