WICKER PARK — Chinese restaurant Papajin — which closed last year after 21 years in business — won't be returning to the street, as the owners of the Wicker Park mainstay eatery had first planned.
"The business cannot work from my point of view. I don't think we can make it. Retail is better," said Papajin's owner Eric Wang, who also owns the new 4-story building at 1551 N. Milwaukee Ave. where his family's restaurant had been since 1995.
Papajin's one-story storefront was demolished last March.
Construction on the replacement, a 4-story building with three floors of apartments atop the ground-level storefront, is scheduled to be completed within the next few months, Wang said.
Wang previously told DNAinfo Chicago that Papajin — barring any unforeseen circumstances — will continue to be on the ground floor when the new development is completed.
But after further thought, Wang decided to put the space up for rent and says he's gotten a lot of interest from retailers already, but none have signed a lease yet.
"I miss everybody but [a restaurant] is too much work and it won't work out. A restaurant is too tough and there are too many Asians, Japanese and Chinese restaurants around there and the market is better for retail," Wang said.