LINCOLN SQUARE — After 10 years in the neighborhood, gastropub Fountainhead plans to permanently close due to coronavirus restrictions hitting the restaurant industry since the start of the pandemic.
Fountainhead, at 1970 W. Montrose Ave., plans to shut down Nov. 14 unless the bar receives more emergency funding from the federal government, according to Jonathan Putman, director of operations.
“The major factors [for closing] for us were we were waiting on another round of PPP to see if we could get a bridge through the winter and we don’t see that coming in any immediate sense, even with the rising number of the patrons inside,” Putman said.
Restaurant leaders publicly announced their decision on social media Thursday. Fountainhead Market, the restaurant’s retail arm at 1966 W. Montrose, will continue to operate.
This week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced eased coronavirus restrictions for bars, restaurants, salons and fitness centers, saying the city has made sufficient progress in fighting the pandemic. As of Thursday, restaurants can allow indoor dining at 40 percent capacity, up from 25 percent.
But Putman said that wasn’t enough to help Fountainhead.
The difficult coronavirus restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic have made it near impossible for the bar to operate past the rooftop season, which is coming to an end. Even when it was open, Putman said business was struggling to stay afloat.
“We have been operating at something like 35 percent capacity with the social distancing guidelines,” he said. “While [the rooftop] gave us the opportunity to hold on and see if we could find a solution, it really was not viable.”
Unless the bar receives more federal funding to help with the winter months, Putman and the co-owners anticipate closing up for good.
“We … wanted to make sure we were as transparent with our staff and gave them the time they needed to take care of themselves moving forward,” he said.
Fountainhead, co-owned by Aaron Zacharias, Scott Morgan, and Dave and Darby Putman, opened in April 2010 and has become a neighborhood staple for spirits, ciders and wines.
Putman, who has been the director of operations for the last eight years, said he will miss the community and hard-working staff who weathered the coronavirus storm and put safety first.
“The initial loss for me is the people we worked with over those eight years —they all worked really hard during this period,” he said. “We are very much a neighborhood pub. Everyone who has been part of the 10 years we are going to miss tremendously.”
The ownership team hopes to open a new venue when the pandemic is over, but for now, patrons can enjoy the last sips of a wide drink selection until November. Reservations are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome.
As the city sees more bars and restaurants close due to coronavirus restrictions, Putman hopes that more federal aid comes to help struggling businesses in the industry.
“We hope for those that haven’t closed yet that the government does come through for this industry,” he said. “Every day that they stall on it, there is another place that cannot hold out.”
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