WICKER PARK — A small restaurant that went through three name and concept changes in the past three years will see its last dinner crowd Sunday, the owner of Starland announced Friday.
"We made a lot of great friends and hope we will find somewhere else soon," said Theo Gilbert, owner of Starland at 1619 N. Damen Ave., which plans to close Sunday.
Citing a loss of their lease as reason for the abrupt closure, Gilbert and his wife, Meghan Gilbert, as well as Chef Lauren McAvinchey, who's worked with Gilbert since he ran Terragusto in Roscoe Village, are currently looking to rent "a small, intimate place" in the area, he said.
"I think this is an awesome area. What bums me out is this neighborhood needs something like this, that's got great food and is cozy," Theo Gilbert said, describing Starland as a "culinary food and libations retreat in a neighborhood that's full of TVs and flashing signs."
In July, Gilbert closed Ripasso, an Italian restaurant, and reopened in March as the Red-Headed Step Child, during an experimental six-week pop up offering Irish fare and comfort food around St. Patrick's Day.
In August, Gilbert opened Starland, which offers comfort food like baked polenta, "grammy's chicken and dumplings" and grapefruit Malort cocktails dubbed "adult coolers," according to an Eater.com post about the rebranding.
In an email to their customers Friday, Megan Gilbert, Theo's wife, thanked regulars for their "support of our many culinary ideas over the years, from Terragusto thru Ripasso to Starland."
"Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we have been unable to secure a lease extension for our current space on Damen, and our lease will expire just into 2014. Based on that, we have decided not to spend the many thousands of dollars to renew our City & State licenses which are expiring this week," Meghan Gilbert wrote Friday.
In addition to keeping busy working on two cookbooks, catering a number of holiday gatherings and consulting on a new restaurant coming soon, Meghan Gilbert said her husband is considering starting a supper club exclusively for guests on their email list.