CHATHAM — The owners of a beloved South Side restaurant that closed earlier this year are launching a fundraiser in hopes of reopening to serve the community again.
The restaurant, 5 Loaves Eatery at 405 E. 75th St., was shut down by state officials because of unpaid taxes in September. Lyndsey Khalen Kincaid, whose parents own the community staple, said slowing business and the strain of the pandemic meant they could not earn enough to continue paying the backlog of taxes and fees.
Now, the family is asking for help. Kincaid launched a GoFundMe last month in hopes of paying down their debts, reopening and forging a new path for her mother, Constance Simms-Kincaid, and the small restaurant. The Kincaids hope to raise $85,000; they have raised about $5,400 as of Thursday. You can donate here.
“We have so much gratitude for the customers that have come through our doors throughout the years,” Kincaid said. “My mom misses creating that atmosphere for her guests and customers.”
The closure happened on a Thursday in September, Kincaid said.
Her father, Robert Kincaid, was in the eatery when “someone came up and placed a sticker on the window,” she said. The notice said the business was no longer authorized to operate.
State tax documents reviewed by Block Club confirm the restaurant was closed due to a high balance of unpaid ST-1 Sales/Use Taxes. Illinois requires all retail businesses selling general merchandise, including food, to pay the tax.
A spokesperson with the Illinois Department of Revenue declined comment.
“This came as a shock,” Kincaid said. “We’ve had to close a few times throughout the pandemic, but we’d never been closed down. We stopped operating immediately that day.”
The business, which has been in Chatham for more than two decades, was already struggling before the shutdown.
The restaurant was closed Mondays and Tuesdays. When the pandemic hit, the Kincaids were forced to keep the restaurants closed on Wednesdays, too.
The dining room closed to guests because of indoor dining bans, compelling 5 Loaves to rely on online orders. But like many struggling restaurants, the high chunk of sales going toward third-party delivery partners meant 5 Loaves with missing out on 30-40 percent of profits, Kincaid said.
A staffing shortage paired with “product scarcity” led to the family canceling lunch service.
It was “like a domino effect,” Kincaid said.
Before the pandemic, the family arranged payment plans with the state to settle previous debts, Kincaid said. Small grants and loans from businesses and family members keep the restaurant afloat, but as that money ran low, they fell behind on the taxes.
“When cuts started happening with labor, my parents had the option of either paying their employees or taking care of their taxes,” Kincaid said. “When it came down to it, they put that money towards taking care of their employees and making sure that we were still putting money towards operating costs.”
Her mother applied for a loan from Chase Bank, a bank they’ve partnered with since the eatery’s inception, but they were denied, Kincaid said.
“As they took care of one situation, it’s as if something else always popped up,” Kincaid said.
Amid the turmoil of the closure, Kincaid’s family has tried to find a silver lining. The time away from the business has given her mother time to breathe and refocus, Kincaid said. She plans to come back stronger and follow in the footsteps of neighbor Stephanie Hart’s Brown Sugar Bakery.
“My mom has had some days where she’s kind of shut down and doesn’t want to talk to anyone, but she also has had a lot of days where she says she’s staying hopeful because this is a setback for a setup for something better,” Kincaid said. “She has a new vision for the restaurant, and I think that’s only been able to come to pass based on having this time away.”
It will be an uphill climb to reopen. Including the taxes, Kincaid said they need $148,000, to clear their debts, knock off additional interest, return loans and hire and train staff with competitive wages.
If they can return, it will be on the South Side, Kincaid said.
“I’ve told my mom a few times that maybe she should move up to the North Side,” Kincaid said. “But she always tells us that she’s open to expanding the business, but she doesn’t want to leave the community. Being on the South Side is important to her. She wants to continue to pour into the community and set bigger goals for the future of the restaurant.”
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