Cafe Marie-Jeanne, the comfortable French all-day restaurant and wine bar that served legions of loyal followers for 5 years in Humboldt Park, will shut Tuesday on the nook of Augusta and California. The neighborhood spot, adored by the town’s critics and its hospitality trade, simply can’t stick with it with out monetary help from the federal government, chef and proprietor Mike Simmons tells Eater Chicago.
“We really feel so honored that Chicago was so open to us and it was lovely whereas it lasted,” Simmons writes in a textual content. “We held on so long as we might however on the finish of the day it wasn’t lengthy sufficient. And we gained’t be the final. It appears the town, state, and federal authorities would watch us wager dying and illness to squeeze a couple of nickels out of an unimaginable state of affairs quite than assist us out. However! The wheel retains turning.”
The restaurant’s creativity and relaxed vibe saved loyal followers who stopped by for a glass of wine, a Chicago-style lobster roll, or calf brains and foie gras. For individuals who aren’t adventurous, the burger was additionally among the many metropolis’s greatest. Simmons, his spouse Valerie Szafranski, and associate/wine director Jamie McLennan, opened Cafe Marie-Jeanne in 2015, throughout the road from the now-shuttered California Clipper. Simmons moved on from Rootstock, the close by wine bar, to open Marie-Jeanne.
They funded the venture partially via Kickstarter, waxing poetic in regards to the cultural and social function of cafes, “the place espresso and sandwiches meet with the musings of poets and philosophers, the animated debates over politics and sports activities, and the rhythm of idle banter amongst buddies and lovers.” The fund raised greater than $21,000.
That groundswell of grassroots help grew over time right into a devoted following. The workforce made its emphasis on wine obvious, as Marie-Jeanne refers back to the first bottle measurement bigger than a magnum (2.25 liters). The spot additionally developed a fame for its baked items like contemporary doughnuts and a cherry peach goat cheese crostata.
Whereas different eating places, lots of them owned by bigger corporations, continued indoor eating, Simmons has been adamant and outspoken about protecting his restaurant’s eating room closed. Through the pandemic, the cafe’s workforce raised funds for native social justice organizations like Courageous House Alliance and Grocery Run Membership with a brief pop-up series, Taste Jam (so named for the 1996 cinematic traditional, House Jam). The collaborative occasions featured native cooks together with Rafa Esparza (Evette’s). Although there gained’t be any extra Style Jams this 12 months, Simmons is open to future occasions: “I feel it was a three-picture franchise however I’m listening to talks for a reboot in 2021,” he says.
Simmons first introduced the closure in an Instagram post Thursday, writing that whereas the workforce strove to maintain the cafe operational, it was time to acknowledge the cafe wouldn’t survive as a result of pandemic and accompanying restrictions.
“We hung in so long as we might and it’s time to let go,” Simmons writes. “All the things should finish. WE WILL MISS YOU ALL! I can’t specific absolutely how a lot of an affect this restaurant has had on my life… After the 23rd we can be taking a while to determine who we’re.”
The cafe’s many followers could make their final visits Friday by way of Monday for a closing cheeseburger or particular. Workers can be providing offers on wine.
The restaurant was particularly beloved by Chicago’s cooks, who turned to social media to share their disappointment. Right here’s a sampling of reactions:
Andrew Brochu, former Roister chef, writes on Instagram: “This was among the finest, most inspiring eating places in Chicago. Within the trade! I’m so sorry to listen to this information.”
Brian Fisher, govt chef at Michelin-starred Entente, feedback: “Fuuuuuck. I’ve been dreaming of the day I might return for a plate of calves brains and a bottle of pet nat. I like you all a lot. Thanks for all the pieces.”
Gained Kim of Kimski in Bridgeport writes: “Jesus. That is the worst information.”
Mickey Neely of Ludlow Liquors agrees: “Worst fucking information ever,” he writes. “I’ll comply with you wherever you find yourself.”
High Chef champion Joe Flamm:
Jeff & Judes proprietor Ursula Siker:
Paulie Gee’s proprietor Derrick Tung:
Former Band of Bohemia chef Soo Ahn:
The closure was additionally felt exterior of Chicago, because the account behind Sister Pie, Detroit’s beloved bakery, additionally shared a response, writing, “Feeling so grateful for the right breakfast I loved two years in the past. My favourite nook in Chicago! Thanks for uplifting from afar. Sending love.”