NOBLE SQUARE — If West Town neighbors want to keep Temporis, a hole-in-the-wall Michelin-starred restaurant, owner and chef Sam Plotnick says he needs help.
Temporis, 933 N. Ashland Ave., created a carryout menu in hopes of making enough revenue to survive Gov. JB Pritzker’s shutdown of bars and restaurants.
For $70 you can get a dinner package for two ($35 per person). The menu currently includes a baby kale salad, short ribs, cheddar grits and brownies.
Add a bottle of wine for $30. There’s also a $25 al a carte burger, made from 50 percent A5-graded Wagyu beef.
The carryout menu is based on “food we cook for each other,” Plotnick said.
“In a time like this you want something that’s comfortable, healthy,” he said. “Food that our chefs really enjoy cooking and take pride in.”
Plotnick opened Temporis in 2017. Since then the Michelin Guide has twice given the restaurant a 1-star rating.
Per Pritzker’s order, restaurants in Illinois need to shift to a purely carryout model to stay open. No dine-in is allowed.
That’s difficult for a place like Temporis, where a meal lasts two-and-a-half hours and includes 10 courses and a wine pairing, Plotnick said.
“You’re basically building a new restaurant from scratch in 48 hours,” he said.
Many staffers, including Plotnick, live in Noble Square or nearby neighborhoods. Plotnick hasn’t had to lay anyone off yet, and he hopes he won’t have to.
But roles are changing.
Chefs who once prepared tiny, delicate dishes for no more than 20 guests at a time are now mass-producing braised short ribs.
A server who once worked at Grace and Alinea is handling paper tickets and assembling carryout orders. Sommelier Dan Coen is driving around Wicker Park and West Town making deliveries.
“It’s not the best business model for us,” Plotnick said. “It’s better than doing nothing.”
Like many fine dining restaurants, Plotnick said Temporis operates on thin margins. A 10-course meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant costs $155 for a reason, he said.
Alinea, a 3-star-rated Lincoln Park tasting menu restaurant, is also offering takeout, too, the Tribune reported.
While Chicagoans are proud of their city’s restaurant scene, many likely do not realize how fragile it is, Plotnick said.
“We think these institutions are here forever, but it’s a very difficult business,” he said. “I hope all the faces are the same when the dust settles on this pandemic. I hope everyone survives.”
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from our neighborhood. It’s been heartwarming to really see that.”
Carry-out and delivery at Temporis is offered 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
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