LAKEVIEW — Despite a seemingly perfect location and Chicago's favorite sandwich on its menu, Beef Shack couldn't cut it in Lakeview and has closed for good.
The Italian beef eatery closed at 1056 W. Belmont Ave. over Memorial Day weekend and never reopened. At the end of June, the door was padlocked for unpaid rent and the remaining Beef Shack equipment inside considered abandoned, according to a letter posted on the door.
Spiro Douvris, a partner in the family-owned business, said the restaurant was popular with regular customers but failed to attract the foot traffic they'd anticipated for an inexpensive eatery so close to the Belmont "L" station and Wrigley Field.
"We opened up and it didn't kick in right away," Douvris said Friday. "And if restaurants don't take off at a certain point, you've got to make that business decision and shut them down."
The Lakeview location served as a test of whether the suburban Beef Shack should expand into the city proper. With the results in, Douvris said he doesn't expect to see Beef Shack on Chicago streets any time soon.
"Everything looked great on paper, but maybe Chicagoans just tire of the same old thing," he said of the many Italian beef and hot dog stands in the city.
Now, Beef Shack will try its luck outside Illinois. Rosati's Pizza bought the franchising rights to Beef Shack and plans to open as many as 60 new locations over the next two years, Douvris said.
"Our stores have been around for a long time, and they do extremely well," Douvris said of the St. Charles and Hoffman Estates eateries. "It's a good concept, and our reviews are phenomenal."
Beef Shack has an eye on Texas, California and Florida as possible targets for expansion, he said. And although Beef Shack won't be back in Lakeview, Douvris said he enjoyed the experience of getting to know the neighborhood.
"The neighborhood was great," he said. "They welcomed us with open arms. It's just one of those things."