In the past year or so, Highland Park has been the site of a series of attempts to turn it into a dining destination for the north shore. And one after another, those ambitious new spots have flamed out. Benjamin, 2nd Street Bistro, and Moderno from the chef of Inovasi in Lake Bluff, John des Rosiers, all shut down in the past year, and now Moderno’s replacement, the farm to table comfort food spot Royce, has shut down as of today, an employee at the restaurant confirmed.
Royce was intended to be a more middle of the road, moderately-priced establishment following the more contemporary Italian food of Moderno, but as with Moderno, showcasing the quality ingredients and cooking skills of chef Phil Rubino. Unfortunately it appears that diners weren’t willing to come out in sufficient numbers for the space even for straight-up hamburgers. Benjamin is reconcepting as a tapas restaurant, but there’s no word as yet on what if anything may come to the Moderno/Royce space; it may be a while before restaurateurs are willing to risk a high profile opening in this area again.
UPDATE: John des Rosiers sent us an email around noon: "A new managing partner was brought in two months ago, they changed many things about the restaurant. Obviously it didn’t work." He says that he has not been involved with the restaurant in 70 days and has focused since then on his original restaurant, Inovasi, and his Wisma chain of prepared food eateries.