Michelin-Starred Yugen Closes Alongside Randolph Restaurant Row

Yugen, a high-quality dining cafe with a exorbitant $215 per-person tasting menu, all of a sudden closed Wednesday, and it is the next unexpected shutter in the space in 3 many years. In November 2018, Yugen replaced Grace, a 3-Michelin-starred restaurant that closed in December 2017. Grace’s demise created countrywide headlines, and prompted proprietor Michael Olszewski to put in his daughter, Morgan, as basic manger for a refreshing start off.

Inspite of the pressures of succeeding within the exact same space exactly where former Grace chef Curtis Duffy earned worldwide recognition, Yugen observed results many thanks to government chef Mari Katsumura. Katsumura — a veteran pastry chef who labored at Michelin-starred restaurants like Acadia and Entente — found her have path. Yugen was component of a wave of 4 Japanese eating places in Chicago specified star position in the 2020 edition of Michelin’s guideline.

But right after contemplating her position, Katsumura submitted her resignation on Might 10 in what she calls an amicable break up she’s not leaving the sector as a information launch said. Olszewski lauded his previous chef and Yugen’s team for their efforts to hold the restaurant afloat all through the pandemic. He even inspired other dining places to employ them centered.

“I’m not making an attempt to audio braggadocios, but Yugen was the ideal restaurant in the metropolis of Chicago,” Olszewski suggests. “Its food items, its services, its pairings, and just the individuals who worked in this article have been unbelievably gifted and gifted.”

The compliments from Olszewski display a different temper when compared to when enhanced conflict between Duffy, GM Michael Muser and Olszewski culminated in a staff stroll out at Grace and subsequent closing in December 2017. Olszewski turned close to immediately with Yugen, which debuted in November 2018. Irrespective of the new menu from Katsumura, it however incredibly considerably looked like Grace as the restaurant retained the same shade scheme, tables, and $1,000 designer chairs. In the meantime, Duffy and Muser opened At any time very last yr in Fulton Market place. Michelin awarded the restaurant two stars very last month.

A smiling chef

Yugen chef Mari Katsumura.
Yugen [Official Photo]

Olszewski claims he’s not nervous about his name staying marred soon after one more unexpected closure. He teased that he previously has an idea for a alternative and could make an announcement “within a month.” He hinted that he now has a chef in head, his 2nd decision to exchange Duffy in 2018 when he hired Katsumura. A new cafe could open sometime this year in the same house.

“It’s going to be entirely new and various,” he suggests. “It’s going to have a wow factor, an OMG aspect.”

While happy of her successes all through the pandemic, the grind has appeared to take a toll on Katsumura. The chef suggests she required a crack right after 10 reliable years of operating in the industry, a stint that bundled just one of the most grueling features of the business enterprise, cafe openings. She suggests she desires some time off to recharge. The Chicago indigenous ideas to remain the town and probably open her individual restaurant in the foreseeable future: “Isn’t that everybody’s dream?” Katsumura claims.

Without having Katsumura, Yugen’s menu doesn’t make sense, a chef just can’t slide into her position: “These are my stories, these are my dishes,” she claims. Katsumura provides she “did have fairly a little bit of guilt” about leaving “because it is really a very sad thing.”

Dining places are in Katsumura’s blood. Her mother owns Yoshi’s Cafe in Lakeview, a cafe that her father, the late Yoshi Katsumura, launched in 1982. Mari Katsumura states she’s out there to host, distinct tables, and assistance if her mom, Nobuko, is Ok with it.

“If she demands my help, I would be joyful to assist with just about anything that she wants,” she states.