Celebrity chef and restaurateur Laurent Tourondel closed his Chicago venture, BLT American Brasserie, on April 29 after only being open for five months. The restaurant's location in Chicago's River North neighborhood was a poor spot for attracting foot traffic and the menu concept (a little bit of everything, from sushi to burgers) lacked enough focus to retain dedicated diners. The restaurant shut down following brunch service yesterday.
BLT isn't the first venture to close in this spot; the location previously housed Brasserie Ruhlmann, another New York City expansion. A slew of negative reviews certainly didn't help BLT's prospects for success; the restaurant endured a number of write-ups from critics claiming that the concept lacked focus and creativity.
Grant Achatz's business partner, Nick Kokonas, apparently doesn't buy the excuse that BLT's location is unlucky or impossible to succeed in; he tweeted about the closing, "If anyone wants to give us this space for free I'll prove that it's not the location that's a problem." Now that's an idea worth exploring.