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Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Northalsted

Pastoral Closing Its Beloved Cheese Shops After 15 Years: ‘Not All Dreams Last Forever’

Citing increased competition, the chain is shutting down.

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LAKEVIEW — Pastoral, the Chicago cheese and specialty sandwich chain, is closing, its owners said.

In a letter posted Friday on Facebook, owners Ken Miller and Greg O’Neill thanked customers but said after being in business for 15 years, they are being forced to close its locations, including its wine bar Bar Pastoral, because “times, consumer preferences and shopping patterns change.”

“Unfortunately, not all dreams last forever, but this does NOT mean that they were not worth pursuing,” the post said.

Pastoral, which sold artisan cheeses made from goat, cow and sheep milk, began with a 383-square-foot location in Lakeview.

It expanded to include a location at 2945 N. Broadway in Lakeview, at 54 E. Lake St. in the Loop, at the French Market at 131 N. Clinton and at 5121 N. Clark St. in Andersonville. The Andersonville location closed in October 2018.

Most recently, the owners added a wine bar to the French Market location this fall, not long after the company’s 15th anniversary.

“We would like to think that, together with our producers and a talented and energetic legion of team members, we have helped raise the public consciousness and appreciation for these products, why they matter and why their value is justified,” the owners said.

Credit: Pastoral/Facebook
Mayor Lori Lightfoot with Pastoral owners Ken Miller, left, and Greg O’Neill in September.

Miller and O’Neill were not available Saturday, but Alex McKeever, general manager of Bar Pastoral, said the staff was “surprised” by the Friday announcement, which came the same day Miller and O’Neill notified the public through social media.

“It’s definitely going to be tough. I’ll personally miss specialty food. Before I was here I really didn’t know anything about cheese, and I know that was the same for a lot of people who worked here. It will definitely be weird, but unfortunately the market is trending a bit differently with Whole Foods and places like Mariano’s carrying more specialty stuff. It’s really hard to compete with places that can undercut our prices,” McKeever said.

Bar Pastoral and the French Market location will close at the end of the day Sunday. The Loop location, closed this weekend, will open Monday and remain open through Wednesday. The Lakeview location may be open Monday and Tuesday, but McKeever said “there is a little bit of uncertainty.”

In a separate Facebook post, O’Neill described the situation as “all too raw and unreal,” and thanked patrons.

“It has been an honor.. Thanks for your love, support and kindness over these past 15 years as we lived our dream.”

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