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West Loop Tenant Claims New Rick Bayless Spot Forcing Them Out

By Anthony Todd in Food on Dec 3, 2013 7:20PM

We reported a few weeks ago about a possible new Rick Bayless restaurant coming to the West Loop on Randolph. At the time we mentioned that it was right next to N&G Produce Company, a long-time favorite of neighborhood residents. Now it looks like N&G will be leaving to make way for the new project.

"We've been in the produce business for 80 years," said Nichole Kourvas, daughter of owner John Kourvas. "We opened up in 1932 across the street and we've been open in this spot since 1973." When the Kourvas family heard about the new restaurant, at first they were excited. "We've always heard he [Bayless] was all about local foods and businesses - it could benefit both of us! It would bring more customers to us."

Unfortunately, it looks like that isn't going to happen. After being told by their landlord back in July that they had nothing to worry about, they were informed in October that they had to be out by the end of the year. "The owner said that the offer was too good to refuse" explained Kourvas. "After 40 years, they don't want us in the building anymore."

N&G Produce is a great retail market, with a full selection of produce and a charming old-world vibe. As more and more of the West Loop has become high-end restaurants, the provisioning companies that used to dominate the neighborhood have been left, one by one. N&G was one of the holdouts - an old-fashioned retail market on a strip dominated by fashionable spots.

N&G posted the news (somewhat obliquely) on Facebook, going so far as to post a picture of Bayless's face with an X over it, and many of their supporters have spoken out as well.

"We are saddened to announce that after over 40 years (and 3 generations) of business in the West Loop, we were notified Saturday that we will have to close our doors to make room for yet another restaurant on Randolph St. We will be open until the end of the year. Please continue to follow us on Facebook & Twitter (@ngproduceco) for any updates. A warm and loving thank you to all of our faithful customers past and present."
According to Kourvas, N&G is in good enough financial shape to make the transition to a new location, though they haven't found one yet. Requests for comment from the Bayless organization have gone unanswered as of press time.