ARMOUR SQUARE — Mr. Spanky is taking a hiatus.
The sandwich and salad counter run by John Schultz will close its doors until sometime later this spring.
But don't call the business a failure — Schultz said the temporary closure is about maintaining quality control and getting the right staff in place.
"It’s not just heat-and-serve here. It’s not stuff you slap together. It's all made by hand and that's another obstacle for me as a business trying to offer affordable food. I don't want to mess with quality of the brand," Schultz said. "And let’s face it, I'm in business to make money."
Schultz, a former chef with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, opened the sandwich shop last year at 335 W. 31st St., where he's also operated a catering business.
Since then, he said, business has been brisk, with a steady mix of regulars stopping in for the modestly priced "Badass BLT," the bacon-topped "Yona" pulled pork sandwich, daily sandwich specials on Chinese buns and homemade veggie sides and salads.
On Yelp, the reviews are across-the-board raves.
But the obstacles have stacked up. There's the steady stream of training and retraining part-timers, not to mention his catering gig with the University of Chicago on the side, which Schultz said is both lucrative and time-consuming.
He closed Mr. Spanky's just before the holidays with plans to reopen after the new year. But that plan has been scrapped in favor of keeping it closed for "a couple months" until he can "reset some things," including staffing, online ordering and a new plan for delivery.
"It's not that I lost money with the business this year, but the only thing I'm doing is keeping people employed. They're making money but I'm not. And I need a team that's going to be here for long haul."
Still, if you are craving Mr. Spanky's beloved bacon, don't fret: you can still order it online.