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Lincoln Park, Old Town

Lincoln Park’s Urban Nomads Works To Rebrand While Threat Of Eviction Looms

Owners of the Asian American restaurant said they hope the return of indoor dining and overhauling the business will be enough to pay back months of unpaid rent.

Zuke Ganzorig, a business partner of Urban Nomads, 2439 N. Clark St.
Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
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LINCOLN PARK — Asian American barbecue spot Urban Nomads is getting a new name and renewed focus on its drink menu — but the restaurant is in danger of being evicted if it doesn’t find financial relief soon.

Like many small businesses, Urban Nomads, 2439 N. Clark St., has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Its owners are behind on rent and have to make “payment arrangements for basically every service that we use,” said partner Zuke Ganzorig, who helped open the bar and grill in late 2019.

“We opened before the pandemic and started off doing OK with some really good days,” Ganzorig said. “But since the pandemic, it’s been a lot tougher.”

Sales have dropped “drastically,” Ganzorig said, and their landlord has threatened eviction if they don’t catch up on their bills soon.

“We’re so far behind on payments that our landlord has lost faith in us and they don’t think we’ll be able to pay back the rent,” Ganzorig said.

Urban Nomads’ landlords could not be reached for comment.

Ganzorig said he hopes the restaurant’s rebranding, coupled with the city’s recent decision to allow indoor dining again, will help turn things around and bring in much-needed cash to save the space.

Right now, they’re changing Urban Nomads’ name to Ganbeii, which calls to mind similar words in Mandarin, Korean and Japanese meaning “cheers.” It’s a move the owners hope will promote the bar and grill’s drink menu, which was recently expanded when the business finally obtained its liquor license.

“We’re supposed to have a new sign by the 15th or 16th, and then we’re adding more Japanese-themed dishes to our menu to give more variety,” Ganzorig said. “Our hope is that with indoor dining opening up, we’ll be seeing more customers in here soon.”

But the business still needs “lifesaving” financial relief from the federal government to stave off eviction, he said.

The owners applied for one of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program loans, but they’re still waiting to find out if they’ve been approved for the funding, which Ganzorig said is crucial to buying more time with his landlord.

“If we get the loan, we can pay back our rent and continue with business, but without it — the thought of being evicted is a lot of pressure hanging over our heads right now,” Ganzorig said.

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps memaber covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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