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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

The Rookery Closes In West Town, Owners Blame People Craving ‘The New’ All Of The Time

The decision to close followed "countless hours agonizing over the pros and cons of keeping the business open," the owners wrote in a Facebook post.

The Rhiannon Fleetwood Mac-inspired pop-up bar above The Rookery has been extended to Nov. 18.
Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago
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WEST TOWN — The Rookery announced it would closed indefinitely on Wednesday night, according to a post on the business’ Facebook page.

Amy Teri and husband Chris Montgomery owned and operated The Rookery, 2109 W. Chicago Ave. The decision to close followed “countless hours agonizing over the pros and cons of keeping the business open,” the owners wrote in the Facebook post.  

The neighborhood has changed since the couple opened the restaurant a handful of years ago, Montgomery told Block Club on Thursday night. 

The “energy” moved northwest into Logan Square and east into Fulton Market, Montgomery said. At the same time, property taxes rose. 

“It’s like death by a thousand cuts,” Montgomery said. 

The couple elaborated more on these financial challenges in the Facebook post: 

“Among our many challenges, a shrinking neighborhood market lost to competition from other ‘hotter’ areas, the relentlessly increasing cost of doing business, including taxes, wages, utilities etc., and the constant need for being entertained by the ‘new’ in a city that seems to open bars/restaurants on a daily basis. But it was ultimately the diminishing returns from the ever-increasing time and energy the business demanded of us that caused us to re-evaluate moving forward,” the owners wrote.

Montgomery said he and his wife did everything they could to keep the business open. Last Friday, business was so slow the couple closed the restaurant for the weekend. 

In the wake of Atomix Coffee Shop closing, too, Montgomery urged neighbors to support local businesses while they’re still open. 

“A lot of these places down here are independents,” he said. “If you have a neighborhood spot and you like it, don’t take it for granted. Go in there and help them out. … All we want to do at the end of the day is make sure people enjoy themselves. Strangely enough, it’s getting harder to do that.”

The couple’s Ukrainian Village roots date back to 2001, when they opened Darkroom in the same location. The Old Oak Tap replaced Darkroom in 2008. The Rookery followed a few years later.

The Rookery made a name for itself as an institution of neighborly civic engagement. The West Town Neighborhood Association, a group of local leaders, met quarterly in the restaurant.

In 2018, Chicago DJ and event promoter Heaven Malone converted the upstairs area of the restaurant into Room 237, a pop-up bar inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” Chicago Magazine reported.

This summer, Malone turned the same area into Rhiannon, a Fleetwood Mac-themed pop-up that served drinks like Black Magic Woman and offered tarot card readings.

This story will be updated.

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