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Karyn's Raw Food Empire Is No More, With Closing Of Longtime Lincoln Park Restaurant

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jul 17, 2017 5:04PM

Karyn Calabrese in 2014, before her accident (photo via Facebook)

It's been a bumpy few years for Karyn Calabrese, the "Vegan Queen" once behind a group of restaurants (plus a spa) promising health through raw and vegan cuisine. The last remaining restaurant she owned apart from her Lincoln Park Flagship closed. She was beset by lawsuits. She ended up in the hospital after a fall. Now, her last restaurant in Lincoln Park is closing this week.

Eater Chicago reports on the closing, which was announced in Karyn's newsletter.

“To My Valued Customers,

It has been an enormous pleasure and honor to serve you on your healthy living journey for the past 35 years. When I think of the thousands of people who I've met over the years and whose lives have been touched by our food, products, classes and services, I'm humbled and grateful. While change can be hard, it's also an essential and important part of our growth.

And so it is bittersweet to tell you that after 18 years I will be closing our restaurant location at 1901 N. Halsted Street. Our last day of business on Halsted will be Sunday, July 23rd."

If you've been following Karyn's story for the last several years, it's been, frankly, a bit bizarre. She's always made some bold claims about the benefits of her raw food diet (claims that are either prophetic or outlandish, depending on your faith in the cause), and she attempted to start crowdfunding campaign amongst her loyal fans when she encountered some financial difficulties. She was sued several times (which may have been the cause of the financial difficulties), and someone claiming to be an ex-employee went on rants about her on Facebook, alleging unsanitary practices at her spa and restaurant. Crain's did a deep dive on her in 2016, which is worth a read.