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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Closings Mon Jan 28 2013

City Provisions Abruptly Closes

City Provisions Logo.gifOn Monday at 6:30pm, chef-owner Cleetus Friedman sent out an email to subscribers announcing that City Provisions, his locavore deli at 1818 W. Wilson, was closed effective immediately.

While I gave everything I had every day of the week to all of my staff, vendors, and guests, in the end I found that sustainability - an undying commitment to what that means - wasn't sustainable. While it looked great from the outside, on the inside we faced many challenges. The praise that hangs on my wall and the Internet speaks to my passion, and that will never change.

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.

Real food takes not just passion, but labor. And these numbers add up. The fact is, I put the same level of ingredients and labor into a sandwich, chips and pickle that my colleagues are putting into a $25 entree. Perhaps we, as a community, are not prepared to take on the challenge of a $15 - $20 lunch ticket, but I know I tried to do it the best way, true to my ideals and focused on creating the best product possible.

We've covered City Provisions frequently over the years, from the first rumblings about its opening to the soft opening to its special farm dinners. The deli brought gourmet ingredients, nearly all from within 250 miles of Chicago and many made in-house, to Ravenswood. City Provisions was also one of the stops on Gapers Block's first Microbrewery Crawl, providing a snack for attendees as well as samples of two of Friedman's collaborations with local breweries.

Unfortunately, frequent press (and plenty of visits from me -- it's right around the corner from the Gapers Block office) didn't make up for the fact that Ravenswood and Wilson is not the most active neighborhood in town, and the lack of foot traffic was one of the reasons Friedman gave in his email for the closure.

According to the email, Friedman plans to continue collaborations with local restaurants (and probably breweries too), and the farm dinner series is set to begin its 2013 season in May. I for one look forward to the next chapter from the City Provisions team.

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Paolo Cisneros / January 29, 2013 12:28 PM

This is too bad. In a short amount of time City Provisions had really established itself as one of the highlights of the neighborhood. Here's hoping the next phase is a success for Cleetus and the rest of the crew.

curtis locke / January 29, 2013 1:11 PM

"'Sustainability' is not sustainable." There is your headline, folks.

Donnie Thompson / January 30, 2013 10:01 AM

Perhaps we, as a community, are not prepared to take on the challenge of a $15 - $20 lunch ticket...could he be any more pompous? The encomy sucks, remember that! This place was ok, nothing special.

jerome smtih / February 1, 2013 2:02 PM

Dont ever forget that our econonomy is run on capitalism 101: you can sell as much as demand requires. This is very different from giving people what YOU want.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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