After struggling with Chicago's Department of Public Health and Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection since opening its doors in 2009, the Logan Square Kitchen, a shared commercial kitchen business, announced Wednesday that it will close next month.
Zina Murray, Logan Square Kitchen's owner, wrote in a blog post on the kitchen's website that her business will close on June 28 and will working to support the 20 businesses that use the space to find an alternative.
Last fall, Murray said that she was "fed up" after her business was inspected 19 times in two years, despite the fact that city law only requires two inspections per year, and hit with "groundless," minor violations that tainted the business's reputation. The Chicago Reader previously outlined Murray's struggles with keeping the kitchen's doors open amid the city's confusion over how to classify her business, located at 2333 N. Milwaukee Avenue.
At one point, it appeared that Murray may have been out of the woods after Logan Square Kitchen was found "not liable" for the alleged violations -- though the city stopped short of issuing her business a clean inspection report.
But that victory -- accompanied with the introduction of a shared-kitchen ordinance some thought would help businesses like Murray's -- appears to have only been a temporary one -- after "18 months wrapped in red tape," Murray is fed up for good after "enduring intimidation and harassment" and pouring resources that would have otherwise gone into the business toward paying for legal assistance.
"It was an innovative, bold idea that never had its chance. … It's a sad time when our government kills the very things that can heal our City," Murray wrote Wednesday. "Unfortunately, we see no end to regulatory burdens, which will continue to block our ability to grow a healthy business."
The Chicago Tribune points out that Mayor Rahm Emanuel chose Logan Square Kitchen as the location where he announced the streamlining of city business licensing procedures last month.
Nice Cream, an artisanal ice cream maker that is one of the small companies that has used the LSK space, was previously engaged in its own regulatory battle with the city and state. The space is popular with Nice Cream and others because it can be rented by the hour, which is desirable for businesses who do not own or cannot afford their own storefront.
"It should come as no surprise that we must close," Murray wrote. "LSK is collateral damage from choices that City employees make each day -- people that have lost the ability to connect their actions with the consequences they cause."
WATCH a video from Logan Square Kitchen's grand opening in 2009: