Dish FLASH—Goodbye, Schwa

You may have heard by now, but allow us to verify: After two meteoric years of business, Schwa (1466 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-252-1466) has closed. Aaron McKay, the sad-sounding guy who answered the phone when we called, hemmed and hawed before saying that Schwa was closing “indefinitely.” Chef-owner Michael Carlsons cell phone has a perpetual busy signal.

For the record: Schwa opened in August 2005 and served its last meal on October 5th, a private blowout for several of the world-class chefs in town for Charlie Trotter’s 20th anniversary dinner on Sunday night. (Trotter took the chefs to Schwa, unaware that it would be Schwa’s final night, says Trotter’s spokesperson, Katy Burstein.) In between, Carlson was named one of Food & Wine’s best new chefs, and his tiny, one-of-a-kind restaurant earned three stars in Chicago magazine—all without reservations, a liquor license, or waiters. We will miss the place, and hope that Schwa lives to serve another prosciutto consommé.

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7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

We tried to eat at Schwa a few months ago. Turned out that they/he had decided to close on Saturdays. Reason? Wanted to spend more time with his newborn. Now, I have 2 kid, age 2 & 4. I would do anything for them; but, if you own a restaurant in Chicago, it is not wise to close on a Saturday when you can bond with your kid from Sunday through Tuesday. My friends and I wondered how long it would stay open.

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

This restaurant is amazing the chef is widely respected and talented they didn't close because of financial issues or because of their hours. the buzz in the industry is that they are closed temporarily because of the chef's health they plan to reopen in about a month. It's his business and the restaurant is small and packed every night I think it's great that he can close and spend time with his family, business is about money yes, but there are more important things, and he clearly isn't in it just for the money or he would get a bunch of investors and get a huge venue and whore himself out and then yes you could get a table even on a Saturday but then all of it's charm and individuality is gone.

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Oh yes, a bunch of investors would set things straight!
I called to see how the dinner went with all the luminaries Charlie had brought in and was just as surprised as anyone.I had spent time the following day with Charlie and he said that he was very impressed with the 'creativity' and clearly enjoyed the meal.
I had not eaten at Schwa until just a few months ago and enjoyed everything and was looking forward to visiting them again soon.They were very creative with the products I supplied them with and was always interested to see what they were doing with them.
When I dined with them, they served my sea urchin roe as a sort of granita on a little cone and it was terrific.
I spoke with Aaron as well and he made it sound as though the closing would be temporary.
I hope so.
Bill Dugan
Fishguy
Wellfleet

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

The rumor I hear from the dining world is a majority of the staff checked themselves into rehab. If that is true, and it seems very plausible, then I wonder what really happened on super-chef night.

While the quotes from the Chefs in attendance were generous, it makes me wonder. Typically people check themselves into rehab after REALLY BAD experiences- wakeup calls. A blowup great dinner served to the world's top chefs doesn't seem to meet that criteria. It just doesn't add up.

It is not hard to imagine, with all the pressure involved, the inclination to get 'a little more high' than usual before service.

My guess is the entire thing was a disaster. The super-chefs are showing mercy and protecting one of their own.

Just a guess.

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I know chef Michael Carlson put everything and then some into the night of the superstar chefs dinner believe me when i say when michael puts his heart and energy into something it is a success. Schwa closing has nothing to do with that one night. The rumors may be out there but what michael needed was a moment to reavaluate. The industry can be wicked on one's health and wellness.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I've been part of restaurants, non-profits, political offices, and now private investment firms...and the most egregious expectations are those of restaurants. Across the board, family and friends should never be compromised.

Close the restaurant when you want. Open the restaurant when you want.
To hell with the savages who care not for your family.

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