City Provisions Closes: Lauded North Side Delicatessen Abruptly Packs Up Shop

01/29/2013 02:48 pm ET

City Provisions, the North Side Chicago delicatessen dedicated to serving and selling sustainable, locally-made foods, abruptly closed its doors Monday.

"As of Monday January 28th I am closing the City Provisions Delicatessen," Chef Cleetus Friedman wrote in a Monday e-mail to the deli's supporters.

"While it looked great from the outside, on the inside we faced many challenges," Friedman wrote in his message. "I could have bought different milk. Different eggs. I could have used non eco-friendly parchment paper. I could sent everything to landfill. I could have used an inferior product. I could have had a Sysco truck deliver my food and have one person work a deep fryer and microwave. I consciously chose to do things one way. Maybe I was stubborn. I was committed to doing what I believed to be the right thing."

Locavores and Ravenswood neighbors alike celebrated the deli's opening in 2010. Previously a catering operation, City Provisions opened to high praise, with Time Out Chicago writing the delicatessen was the “best thing to happen to food shops in Ravenswood—heck, this whole town—in a long, long time.”

Though the high cost of sustainable food and products was at the heart of deli's demise, Friedman cited the shop's 1818 W. Wilson location as another liability.

"I love and have been embraced by the Ravenswood community—but this location simply does not produce the type of foot traffic a business like City Provisions needs to be financially viable," Friedman wrote.

In addition to losing a strong advocate for local and sustainable food in Chicago, several local vendors have also lost a valuable distribution channel in the wake of City Provisions' closing. The deli carried products by many local vendors—with small-scale operations—like Katherine Anne Confections, locally-made ice cream maker N'iceCream and Oak Park-based Rare Bird Preserves.

The Tribune said Friedman will continue his brewery collaborations, and Friedman himself wrote he'll continue to share his Farm Dinner series.

CONVERSATIONS