Michelin-Starred Yugen Closes Together Randolph Restaurant Row

Yugen, a high-quality eating cafe with a exorbitant $215 for each-individual tasting menu, quickly closed Wednesday, and it’s the next unexpected shutter in the house in three a long time. In November 2018, Yugen replaced Grace, a a few-Michelin-starred cafe that shut in December 2017. Grace’s demise created national headlines, and prompted proprietor Michael Olszewski to put in his daughter, Morgan, as standard manger for a contemporary start out.

Even with the pressures of succeeding inside the similar area exactly where former Grace chef Curtis Duffy earned world recognition, Yugen observed achievement many thanks to government chef Mari Katsumura. Katsumura — a veteran pastry chef who worked at Michelin-starred dining establishments like Acadia and Entente — observed her own route. Yugen was component of a wave of 4 Japanese eating places in Chicago given star standing in the 2020 edition of Michelin’s manual.

But after thinking about her purpose, Katsumura submitted her resignation on Might 10 in what she calls an amicable break up she’s not leaving the marketplace as a news launch mentioned. Olszewski lauded his previous chef and Yugen’s employees for their endeavours to retain the cafe afloat for the duration of the pandemic. He even encouraged other eating places to employ the service of them dependent.

“I’m not striving to seem braggadocios, but Yugen was the most effective restaurant in the city of Chicago,” Olszewski suggests. “Its food stuff, its company, its pairings, and just the people who labored in this article were being extremely gifted and gifted.”

The compliments from Olszewski present a diverse temper in contrast to when greater conflict between Duffy, GM Michael Muser and Olszewski culminated in a workers stroll out at Grace and subsequent closing in December 2017. Olszewski turned all around rapidly with Yugen, which debuted in November 2018. Despite the new menu from Katsumura, it still very significantly seemed like Grace as the cafe retained the exact same color plan, tables, and $1,000 designer chairs. Meanwhile, Duffy and Muser opened Ever last calendar year in Fulton Marketplace. Michelin awarded the restaurant two stars last month.

A smiling chef

Yugen chef Mari Katsumura.
Yugen [Official Photo]

Olszewski claims he’s not anxious about his standing becoming marred soon after a different sudden closure. He teased that he now has an thought for a substitute and could make an announcement “within a month.” He hinted that he now has a chef in intellect, his 2nd choice to change Duffy in 2018 when he hired Katsumura. A new cafe could open sometime this 12 months in the very same space.

“It’s going to be thoroughly new and various,” he says. “It’s heading to have a wow variable, an OMG issue.”

Although happy of her successes throughout the pandemic, the grind has appeared to consider a toll on Katsumura. The chef suggests she desired a crack following 10 strong many years of doing work in the sector, a stint that integrated a single of the most grueling facets of the business enterprise, cafe openings. She suggests she wants some time off to recharge. The Chicago indigenous strategies to remain the town and probably open up her very own cafe in the potential: “Isn’t that everybody’s aspiration?” Katsumura states.

Without having Katsumura, Yugen’s menu doesn’t make sense, a chef simply cannot slide into her role: “These are my tales, these are my dishes,” she claims. Katsumura adds she “did have pretty a little bit of guilt” about leaving “because it’s really a quite unfortunate issue.”

Dining places are in Katsumura’s blood. Her mom owns Yoshi’s Cafe in Lakeview, a restaurant that her father, the late Yoshi Katsumura, started in 1982. Mari Katsumura states she’s available to host, very clear tables, and help if her mother, Nobuko, is Alright with it.

“If she requires my guidance, I would be content to help with anything at all that she desires,” she says.