Tavern at the Park to close in March

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

After nearly 12 years as a New Eastside staple, the Tavern at the Park will close.

Owners of the popular restaurant, 130 E. Randolph St., completed the deal with Sterling Bay in December. The restaurant is expected to close in March, though partner Peter de Castro said he’s not sure when the last day will be—they have to be off the property by March 29.

“It’s kind of a moving target for the closing date. It depends on how much staff is left,” he said. “As soon as we decide we don’t have the staff to do things to our standards as we’ve always done them, we’ll make that decision and close it from there.”

De Castro said he and the other partners hadn’t planned to sell but Sterling Bay, the group that owns Prudential Plaza, approached the partners and made an offer. De Castro had mixed emotions about closing up shop.

“The decision was tough for staff because we had to give them 60-days notice, and so you want to make sure you take care of them,” he said. But from the financial side, it was an easy choice.

“A 12-year-run is a long run for a restaurant. At that point you have to talk about major remodeling anyway to stay fresh, and that shuts you down,” he said.

The news was especially tough on some longtime customers.

Robert Ogonovich said he’s been visiting the restaurant for years—practically since it opened—when he visits his daughter, who works downtown.

“I always pop in for a drink, when it’s convenient,” he explained.

This month he will have to look elsewhere, and said he is open to exploring the neighborhood.

“I’ll just have to find another place close to here,” Ogonovich said. “I’ll have to survey the neighborhood.”

Looking ahead, de Castro said he doesn’t know what he will do next. He has owned restaurants since 1987, but he said the industry is tough right now. A low unemployment rate is driving up wages for staff, and the city’s minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $13 an hour this July.

“I don’t know what will happen next,” he said. “There aren’t plans to do anything yet, but that could change tomorrow. I think we’re going to take a log off the fire and sit back.”

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