Tribute Closes

By
Tribute, to which we now pay.
Tribute, to which we now pay. Photo: courtesy Tribute

Tribute, a South Loop restaurant which had impressive views but never managed to convey a clear vision to diners, becoming better known for chef changes than any particular style of food, has closed. A statement posted on Facebook said:

Tribute is now closed. After careful deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to close our doors. We have succumbed to the poor economic environment that has not helped our new restaurant to grow roots. We have tried to weather these crucial beginning months for any operation but we have not been able to sustain. We are currently exploring options for the space, including a potential sale to another operator, but Tribute as it stands now will not continue on.

Tribute, a South Loop restaurant which had impressive views but never managed to convey a clear vision to diners, becoming better known for chef changes than any particular style of food, has closed. A statement posted on Facebook said:

Tribute, to which we now pay.
Tribute, to which we now pay. Photo: courtesy Tribute

Tribute was, so far as we can determine, the first venture of Chow Crowd Restaurant Group, whose leading figure is Simon Lamb, a former director of operations for KDK (Marche, Redlight, etc.) who also had a background including a gallery (Gallery Provocateur) and a luxury goods maker (House of Narcisse). Tribute was impressively designed in the venerable South Loop Essex House hotel, and it seemed off to a promising start with respected chef Paul Wildermuth (who had worked with Lamb at Redlight and Opera), only to be thrown for a loop by Wildermuth’s sudden death at age 46 last November.

They tried to get back on track by hiring Brandon Baltzley, then a little-known but quickly rising chef. But Baltzley left the project to go into rehab in May, and his replacement was his sous chef, Lawrence Letrero, who had worked at Perennial but was most recently chef de cuisine of a vegan restaurant, Karyn’s on Green.

Details, in a profile of Baltzley, would puff Tribute up into "the biggest opening of the year," but in fact the restaurant was largely written off after a disorganized preview party whose food, drink and service apparently impressed no one in local food media. (We did not attend, we merely heard.) A couple of months after the restaurant’s July opening, Letrero was out, replaced by Jared Case, who had worked under Wildermuth some years ago but more recently had been working in a country club in St. Louis. But the restaurant never succeeded in establishing a clear identity for its food or personality in a crowded restaurant market, where despite the economy, other spots have found great success this year.

Tribute Closes