EDGEBROOK — Dakota 94 staff are saying goodbye to their patrons this week after four years in business.
The family-run casual American restaurant and bar at 5304 W. Devon Ave. in Edgebrook will permanently close Sunday, owners and managers wrote on Facebook over the weekend.
“We have loved to serve the community every day, but after COVID, we struggled to stay afloat. We hung in there as long as possible to see if maybe things would turn around, but the time has come that we need to close the doors permanently,” the team wrote.
Maria Proa, the general manager who wrote the post, told Block Club the restaurant has not been financially stable since the pandemic hit, and dine-in business has dwindled.
“The neighborhood got really comfortable eating in [after the pandemic], and we’ve only been serving four or five tables a night,” Proa said.
The city’s increasing minimum wage also affected the restaurant’s finances and employee turnover, as sales didn’t cover all of the increases, Proa said. Non-tipped employees make $15 per hour at Dakota 94, but some have left after finding work for $20-$25 an hour, she said.
Proa said she and owners Peter and Kayla Lardakis would like to thank the community for trying their best to support the restaurant.
“I want to thank them for their support and for having baby showers, private events,” Proa said. “Everybody who came in was like family.”
The Lardakises, who live in Sauganash, opened Dakota 94 in 2019 as a welcoming brunch spot that also served dinner, taking over where Italian restaurant Mia Figlia had been, they previously told Block Club. Kayla Lardakis owns the restaurant building, according to property records.
The name Dakota 94 is a nod to the owners’ backgrounds: Interstate 94 connects Peter’s home in Chicago to Kayla’s hometown in North Dakota.
The couple are operating partners of four Kanela Breakfast Club restaurants. They also operate two restaurants in Arizona, so “they will be OK” after Dakota 94’s closing, Proa said.
Proa said the owners alerted the team about the restaurant’s decline a few months ago so they could find other work in case they ended up closing.
After the owners announced their decision to close, some workers left over the weekend, leaving Proa and the owners to manage the front of house, she said.
The owners are helping remaining staff find jobs at Kanela, Proa said. She has found a new job at Land & Lake in suburban Rosemont, and other staffers have been hired at Elly’s Pancake House in suburban Glenview, Moretti’s in Edison Park and The Capital Grille in River North, Proa said.
Dakota 94’s final week is full of tribute events and parties so neighbors can say their goodbyes.
The restaurant’s final weekly trivia night starts 6 p.m. Wednesday, and former employees will come back to the restaurant over the weekend to celebrate the past four years, Proa said.
“We will be there to say goodbye,” she said.
Dakota 94 will be open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily through Sunday.