The coronavirus claimed its highest-profile Chicago restaurant victim to date, with word that Blackbird, 619 W. Randolph St., was closing for good after more than 22 years as one of the area’s finest restaurants.
“We’ve labored long and hard over this decision,” said partner Paul Kahan. “But in an incredibly small, tight dining room — operating at only 25% capacity for who knows how long — and removing the opportunity to do private dining, it becomes incredibly difficult to manage.”
“Think of what 6 feet of social distancing means to Blackbird, and then how do you operate a 14-by-9 kitchen?” added partner Donnie Madia. “We have other responsibilities and other staff members to take care of, and it’s our job to make sure we do that.”
Blackbird opened on Dec. 1, 1997. Madia and Kahan, along with partners Eduard Seitan and the late Ricky Diarmit, quickly established Blackbird as a restaurant to reckon with. The contemporary-American cuisine was breathtaking, the wine program and service were first rate, and the stylish decor — a white-on-white look that bordered on minimalism — was sleek and sophisticated.