Chicago Sun-Times

Cur­tis Duffy’s count­down

Former Grace chef nears July 28 open­ing of Ever, his new restau­rant

- BY ASHOK SELVAM Eater Chicago Orig­i­nally pub­lished on Con­tribut­ing: Miriam Di Nun­zio Recreation · Restaurants · Dining Out · General Motors Corporation · Michelin · Chicago Metropolitan Area, Illinois · J.B. Pritzker · Alinea

Ever, one of Chicago’s most an­tic­i­pated restau­rant open­ings of 2020 — fea­tur­ing the re­turn of chef Cur­tis Duffy — will de­but later this month. Reser­va­tions went live with July 28 show­ing as open­ing day at 1340 W. Ful­ton Mar­ket and are sold out through Septem­ber.

The re­turn of Duffy’s cre­ative cuisine is huge for Chicagoans who love fine din­ing. They’ve been miss­ing Duffy’s food, in­clud­ing an in­ven­tive vege­tar­ian menu, since Grace closed in 2017. Crit­ics de­scribed Grace’s clos­ing as a dam­ag­ing blow to the city’s food scene with some won­der­ing if it was in­dica­tive of the bub­ble burst­ing on the food in­dus­try, or ev­i­dence that Chicago was trending away from fancy tast­ing menu restau­rants.

At Ever, the eight- to 10-course meals will cost din­ers $285 per per­son, a lit­tle less than the $300 tar­get an­nounced last year. In this age of COVID-19, dy­namic pric­ing doesn’t seem to be in ef­fect. That cost puts Ever in the same cat­e­gory as pre-pan­demic Alinea, near the top of the prici­est restau­rants in Chicago. GM Michael Muser has said they wanted to price Ever com­pet­i­tive with the city’s other fine din­ing restau­rants.

“It’s al­ways been my am­bi­tion to do a sec­ond restau­rant and third and fourth restau­rant,” Duffy told the Sun-Times on Mon­day. “To de­velop a restau­rant em­pire. To have a hand­ful of restau­rants that are chef-driven with dif­fer­ent styles of cuisine.”

Grace gained world­wide ac­claim as one of two Chicago restau­rants (along with Alinea) with a full three stars from Miche­lin in­spec­tors. The restau­rant was care­fully thought out as place to show­case Duffy’s skills.

The de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the re­la­tion­ship with owner Michael Ol­szewski forced the restau­rant’s clo­sure. Ol­szewski has since opened Yu­gen, a Ja­panese restau­rant, in the same space. Non-com­pete clauses in Duffy and Muser’s con­tracts pre­vented them from open­ing a new restau­rant in the Chicago area, but now the lim­i­ta­tion is ex­pired, and Ever was born.

Muser told Eater Chicago that he was con­fi­dent that he and his staff could cre­ate a safe ex­pe­ri­ence for din­ers wor­ried about the novel coro­n­avirus. As a fine din­ing es­tab­lish­ment, Muser says they can eas­ily con­trol the flow of cus­tomers and limit their time in a spa­cious din­ing room. They’ll be run­ning at a re­duced ca­pac­ity with 14 ta­bles.

More reser­va­tions may be of­fered if Gov. J.B. Pritzker re­laxes the cur­rent lim­its on in­door seat­ing, Duffy said.

The safety mea­sures are listed on the restau­rant’s web­site. Back in May, Muser talked about the de­sign for the masks work­ers would wear. He said they would prob­a­bly give them to a cus­tomer as a keep­sake if asked. They’ve taken that to the next level as all din­ers will re­ceive a per­sonal safety kit. The pack­age in­cludes a mask, hand san­i­tizer, and la­tex-free gloves.

“Here’s the thing: we in the restau­rant world, we want to open real bad, all of us,” Muser says. “But we don’t want to get sick ei­ther.”

 ?? PRO­VIDED ?? Chef Cur­tis Duffy
PRO­VIDED Chef Cur­tis Duffy
 ?? MICHAEL MUSER ?? Sun­choke dish at Ever.
MICHAEL MUSER Sun­choke dish at Ever.
 ?? MICHAEL MUSER ?? Chef Cur­tis Duffy’s ice sphere dessert at Ever restau­rant.
MICHAEL MUSER Chef Cur­tis Duffy’s ice sphere dessert at Ever restau­rant.
 ?? BARRY BRECHEISEN ?? Michael Muser (left) and Cur­tis Duffy at Ever dur­ing con­struc­tion.
BARRY BRECHEISEN Michael Muser (left) and Cur­tis Duffy at Ever dur­ing con­struc­tion.

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