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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Leghorn Chicken In Ukrainian Village Abruptly Closed By State

Employees say they've been dealing with bounced checks for a month and feared that closure was imminent.

Leghorn Chicken, 959 N. Western Ave., closed on May 24.
Hannah Alani/Block Club Chicago
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UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Leghorn Chicken in Ukrainian Village abruptly closed late last week, with workers saying the Illinois Dept. of Revenue shuttered the business and slapped a neon green license revoked sign on the door.

The restaurant’s owners didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, and the state was not immediately available for comment on the closure.

Meanwhile, several workers claim their former bosses have yet to cough up a month’s worth of pay.

Employees who spoke with Block Club Chicago on the condition of anonymity said checks from their two most recent pay periods bounced — resulting in $900 and $2,500 in unpaid wages for two different full-time employees.

“I have yet to get paid and am hoping that airing some of these issues publicly can speed up their process,” one of the two workers said.

The employee who said they are owed $900 lives in a two-bedroom apartment where they pay half the $1,200 monthly rent. That worker pleaded with Van Camp via text message to pay the workers so they could make June rent. They said they still haven’t heard a response.

Credit: Provided
Leghorn Chicken, 959 N. Western Ave., closed on May 24.

One worker said they had suspected their bosses had been having financial troubles leading up to the bounced checks and abrupt closure.

In late March, the restaurant at 959 N. Western Ave. stopped paying its employees with regular checks and began using cashier’s check and cash. The cash payments were often late and short, while the cashier’s checks often bounced, the workers said.

Then, around 11 a.m. last Friday, officials with the Illinois Department of Revenue came into the restaurant. A sign was posted in the window: “WARNING: This business’ certificate of registration is hereby revoked.”

No owners were available to talk at the restaurant Wednesday. The green sign on the door had been replaced with a white sign that read: “We are closed due to equipment failure until further notice. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Jared Van Camp, one of Leghorn’s four partner-owners, didn’t return several calls for comment.

This is not the first time Element Collective has been accused of not paying its employees.

In 2017, staff at three different Element Collective restaurants — Kinmont, Nellcote and RM Champagne — told the Tribune their checks had bounced. Element Collective’s owners paid back the wages, Van Camp told the Tribune.

Credit: Hannah Alani/Block Club Chicago
Leghorn Chicken, 959 N. Western Ave., closed on May 24.

Leghorn Chicken, known for its “socially conscious” grass-fed meats and explicit hip-hop music, moved into the Ukrainian Village in 2014.

At the time, Van Camp told DNAInfo the chicken joint would fit in well with the hip dining options in the neighborhood.

“The area is blowing up. We love this area,” Camp said. 

The restaurant’s parent company, Element Collective, later opened a second Leghorn Chicken in River North as well as a concession stand at the United Center.

In March of last year, however, Element Collective closed the River North chicken spot, Eater reported. It is unknown whether the United Center concession stand remains in business.

Element Collective also owns Nellcote, RM Champagne Salon and Old Town Social (the latter of which closed in October of last year, Eater reported). The group also owned the now-closed Kinmont.

Recent posts on Glassdoor — a website that allows employees to rate and review their bosses — show complaints of unpaid wages and bounced checks at Element Collective dating back several years.

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