It sent shivers last night through the Chicago food twitterverse, especially as most of it seemed to be bathing in the historical comforts of Downton Abbey at that moment. Crain’s reported that universally-acclaimed Great Lake Pizza in Andersonville would be closing at the end of January. The tiny pizzeria, acclaimed for its uncompromising commitment to artisanal pizza, natural ingredients, and doing things exactly how owners Nick Lessins and Lydia Esparza want to do them with no concessions to how every other pizza place in town does them, has declined to renew its lease at 1477 W. Balmoral. This led to much gnashing of teeth that one of the city’s most artfully-crafted pizzas, and one that had earned Chicago rare respect from New York media who love mocking Chicago deep dish, would shortly be gone for good. But that’s not what the report, by Ari Bendersky, said.
Bendersky spoke to landlord Danny Yuen; he was unable to speak directly to Lessins or Esparza. But even Yuen told Bendersky that Lessins had told him that he planned to move— not to shut down forever. Lessins cited repairs and upgrades to the building that Yuen refused to make as one reason for wanting to be out of the current space; it’s also just as likely that Great Lake’s daily lines suggest that the business ought to have a bigger space with more than a single communal table. It’s certainly possible that even Lessins and Esparza don’t know yet what the restaurant’s future is, and just as possible that they do and simply don’t choose to tell Yuen, but every indication is that Great Lake will be back at some future point, and given the level of interest in the restaurant, it’s likely that local food writers will be all over Lessins and Esparza like mozzarella on a margherita as soon as it opens for business tomorrow at five, and we’ll know more soon. [Crain’s]