Mado (1647 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-342-2340) closed abruptly on Wednesday. (Eater broke the story.) Dish talked to a co-owner, David Richards, about his side of the story, and to the chef, Brandon Baltzley, about his side—and his plan to buy the restaurant.
* * *
Dish: Why did things come to a head all of a sudden?
David Richards: We had the honeymoon month where it was free spending and “Whatever you need, chef.” And then it comes time to start going over numbers and what you have to do to keep the restaurant profitable.
D: Baltzley said in Eater that Mado was profitable.
DR: It just so happens that he did pull sales from one week that happened to be the weekend of Thanksgiving. A week he was out sick. That week happened to be in the margins of what we look for. I try to keep kitchen labor at 25 percent, and I try to keep my food costs at 25 percent. The kitchen payroll was high, and I texted that we need to look at that and bring it within the margins of 25 percent. But that week kitchen payroll was $3,464 and our sales that week were less than twice that. So they were around $7,000.
D: What does that translate to? Did you suggest firing people or cutting back on hours?
DR: I told him that we need to move two people specifically from full-time to part-time hourly.
D: When did your manager call you about Baltzley and the staff leaving?
DR: He told me that he had run into two fellows on the street and they said goodbye. They were leaving. He didn’t elaborate on the conversation, but what I understood was that it was just a passing sort of thing. Not a stand-and-converse sort of thing. When he got into the restaurant and saw that no one was in the kitchen, he called me.
D: So now what?
DR: I’m trying to regroup today. And see where to go.
* * *
Dish: What happened on Wednesday?
Brandon Baltzley: I got a phone call basically stating everything. I was told to fire two people. And then it changed to, well, OK, don’t fire everyone, for obvious reasons. I was told to bring them in on weekends for an hourly wage. And I thought, So you are just going to [expletive] pay them . . . for a couple of hours on Friday and Saturday. And then they will just quit.
D: What then?
BB: We had a sit-down at about 2:30. Strictly kitchen staff. We just had a discussion about what we should do. We packed up all of our personal belongings. We put away all of the perishable food product, so hopefully, they would not lose any product.
D: And then you left?
BB: The manager came in, and I told him what was happening. He agreed. He didn’t even try to talk us out of it, and I gave him my key.
D: Now what?
BB: I’m in meetings all day with investors and I’m trying to buy Mado. If everything works out, everyone who was at Mado previously will be returning. Everyone is pretty much waiting right now.
D: Is this a secret?
BB: I don’t care who knows. It’s a proposal. We don’t know if it will go through. We don’t know what will happen.