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Curious Closes After Just 4 Months; Chef And Landlord At Odds Over Rats

By Alisa Hauser | June 19, 2017 1:09pm | Updated on June 20, 2017 10:57am
 Curious says it has closed and is blaming
Curious says it has closed and is blaming "grave structural issues" in a sign in the window.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — A BYOB bistro from a Tru alum that had garnered mixed reviews has abruptly closed less than four months after opening near Chicago and Damen in Ukrainian Village.

A sign posted on Friday in the window of Curious cites "grave structural issues" for the restaurant's shuttering and blames the building's landlord. However, Marty Kam, who owns the building at 2020 W. Chicago Ave., is disagreeing with chef Laurel Khan's account.

"I need to assess what kind of damage her accusations have caused the reputation of the building and the future. If she was making money hand over fist, this would not have happened," Kam said on Monday.

Though city records show that the restaurant passed its most recent health inspection on Feb. 9 — a few weeks before Curious opened — Khan alleges that the storefront was plagued by rats.

"To explain... rat droppings in dining area, [rats] often getting into linen bags pulling out towels, or just eating holes in bags," Khan said in a text message late Sunday that included photos of damaged linens and a destroyed sock monkey doll.

Kam, who also owns Sunrise Cafe a few doors east of Curious, told DNAinfo he got a letter from Khan's lawyer on Saturday saying she plans to move.

"I would cancel her lease if she moves. I do wish her well. Her food was good. In this area restaurants open and close all the time," Kam said.

City records show no recent building code violations at the site.

Kam said that Khan brought up the rat issue with him after it appeared her business was slow. Kam said three of Khan's rent checks bounced; Khan told DNAinfo she would not pay rent until building issues were fixed.

"I would go there and ask, 'How are you doing? But she would have two parties on a Saturday night. After a while, she started bringing up this rat situation. And she would keep the door open wide in back, rats do come out if you have the door open," Kam said.

The sign posted by Khan says Curious will reopen if the landlord fixes the structural issues.

Kam said: "There are no issues to rectify. There is a concrete foundation that holds up the walls. There is a dirt crawl space, but there is no way rats can come in unless the door is open. She had a bunch of rat traps, and I put out rat traps, and after two weeks we did not catch one rat," Kam said.

Khan further elaborated on the closure on her Facebook page.

"I remain positive that what is around the bend in the road, will bring me as much or more joy then my short tenure at CURIOUS. I'll keep everyone posted on any new developments. Many thanks to my customers and the neighborhood!" she posted.