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Facing Closure, Popular Vegan Eatery Karyn's Seeks $300K in Donations

By Mina Bloom | December 7, 2015 6:19pm
 Karyn's, 1901 N. Halsted St.
Karyn's, 1901 N. Halsted St.
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DNAinfo/Mina Bloom

LINCOLN PARK — Popular vegan restaurant and market Karyn's, which has called Lincoln Park home for 17 years, is facing closure, according to its owner Karyn Calabrese. 

On Friday, Calabrese launched a GoFundMe to save her restaurant, 1901 N. Halsted St. As of Monday evening, she had raised $2,838. She is seeking a total of $300,000 to cover the cost of rent, which is more than $20,000 a month, and basically "everything" related to keeping her business afloat, she said.

"I'm in a big hole," she told DNAinfo Chicago. "If I'm going to keep my doors open, this has to work."

About two years ago, a massive fire destroyed the entire building, and Calabrese said "it took everything [she] had to rebuild." She was forced to close her business for a year during the renovations, which she said didn't help her dire financial situation.

To make matters worse, the person handling the finances at Karyn's at the time wasn't paying taxes. Calabrese said it wasn't malicious, but cost her money nonetheless. 

Lastly, national grocery chain Whole Foods has opened a couple new locations in Lincoln Park, which has hurt business, she said.

"All of the small stores are going out of business because of the big-box stores," she said. "People go for convenience, they don't even look at the price."

The 7,500-square-foot space — which includes a bistro, market, juice bar and beauty center that are all dedicated to holistic health — is Calabrese's last remaining physical location. Her other two locations, Karyn's on Green, 130 S. Green St., and Karyn's Cooked, 738 N. Wells St., have shuttered.

Calabrese, 68, has been teaching Chicagoans about the benefits of holistic health for more than 30 years. The Halsted location's beauty center offers everything from colon treatments to detox and cleansing programs. Calabrese's customers include world-famous celebrities like Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder and Beyonce.

Through her restaurants and other endeavors, Calabrese hopes to "show young women that you can get a different outcome without Botox and surgery," she said.

When asked what she would do if the fundraising goal is not met and her location closes, Calabrese said she "wasn't even going to think about it."

"I'm not going to even enter it into my mind. It's not an option for me," she said.

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