After 10 years, the Chicago restaurant La Madia will close its doors for good on Saturday.
Chef and owner Jonathan Fox said the lease was up, and he has decided to focus on his Firecakes Donuts brand, a two-unit artisan doughnut and specialty coffee concept poised for growth.
An industry veteran, Fox was the executive chef at Printers’ Row in Chicago before opening La Madia. He was also a partner in Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and helped create the Papagus brand. He was a founding partner and chief operating officer of the Maggiano’s Little Italy chain, which was later acquired by Brinker International Inc.
La Madia pioneered the wood-fired Neapolitan pizza trend in Chicago.
“We are so grateful to our many customers for making our restaurant such a welcomed spot in River North,” Fox said in a statement. “Our goal was to create a modern Italian restaurant that would allow Chicagoans to thoroughly enjoy a contemporary Italian experience, and we are pleased that we made so many people happy.”
Fox told Restaurant Hospitality that Firecakes has been wildly successful.
“Our focus will be on continuing to refine and grow the brand, and make it even stronger,” Fox said. “That’s really where my head is at right now.”
The first unit of the doughnut shop opened four years ago in Chicago, offering premium flavors like maple-glazed pineapple-and-bacon donuts, triple Valrhona chocolate cake, and malted milk ball. A specialty of the house is ice cream-doughnut sandwiches stuffed with gelato.
Fox said a third unit is scheduled to open in October, with a fourth coming before the end of the year, both in Chicago.
More growth is planned, although he’s not ready to say where and how many.
Fox, whose businesses include the hospitality consulting firm 3Sixty Dining Intelligence, said La Madia is closing at a time when competition in the industry is as fierce as it has ever been.
“People have so many choices,” he said. “It’s critical that you continue to reinvent yourself as a concept. And you have to have a standard that sets you apart. We did that for 10 years, but where we are with La Madia, this space is ready for something new. Our choice was to not do that here, but to focus on our brand that’s in a growth stage.”
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