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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Don Chema, Logan Square Mexican Restaurant, Closes After Nearly 25 Years: ‘The Neighborhood Is Not The Same’

The owners' other restaurants — Chema's at 3434 W. North Ave. and La Catrina at 3924 W. Diversey Ave. — remain open. And one of the owners is opening a new restaurant on Fullerton Avenue.

Don Chema Restaurant at 2331 N. California Ave.
Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
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LOGAN SQUARE — Don Chema, a Mexican restaurant that has called Logan Square’s California Avenue home for nearly 25 years, has closed.

The owners of Don Chema at 2331 N. California Ave. shuttered the traditional Mexican spot over the weekend, thanking customers in signs posted to the windows.

The owners’ other restaurants — Chema’s at 3434 W. North Ave. and La Catrina at 3924 W. Diversey Ave. — remain open. And one of the owners is opening a new restaurant — Chema’s #2 — further west at 3721 W. Fullerton Ave.

But the closure of Don Chema is the latest change to hit an area of Logan Square that has transformed dramatically in recent years.

It is owned by business partners and longtime friends Maria Cruz and Lazaro Efrain Estrada. They weren’t available for comment Wednesday, but Cruz’s daughter, Cristina Garcia, who grew up at the restaurant, said multiple factors influenced the decision to close.

Like many restaurants, Don Chema lost business during the coronavirus pandemic with indoor dining being banned or restricted over the past year. Garcia also blamed gentrification in Logan Square, which was happening long before the pandemic. Over the last decade, several upscale apartment towers have sprouted up near Milwaukee and California avenues, one directly across the street from Don Chema.

“The neighborhood is not the same anymore. Everything’s getting more expensive. It was time,” Garcia said.

Don Chema is one of a few Mexican staples that have shuttered as Logan Square continues to shed its Latino population. Mexican restaurant Dos Amigos closed in 2019. Panaderia La Central, a Mexican bakery located beneath the California Blue Line station, closed in 2018. Both spots had been open for about 35 years.

This is a developing story.

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