"All I can say is, I think Brad [Buchanan, the Inn's owner] made a prudent business decision," executive chef Mike Fiala says.
Besides Fiala, who studied at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, the Inn has "graduated" plenty of fine chefs in its long history, including Jared Kirby (Moe's), Aaron Hervey (Crave), Brandt Evans (Blue Canyon Kitchen), Aaron Ruggles (Bistro on Main), and Shawn Monday (Downtown 140).
"It's very sad," says Monday, who spent six years with the Buchanans. "It's where I became a chef. The Buchanans were the ones who gave me my first professional opportunity."
Monday suspects that a devastating flood in 2003 may have marked the beginning of the end for the restaurant. "It was a big hit to them, not just the money, but the amount of work involved. It was like starting back at ground zero and having to ask yourself, do you really have the energy to do all that?"
He also acknowledges increased competition as a factor. "When the Inn opened, there was nothing else like it out here. Now, there are so many more seats to fill, all the restaurants are feeling the pressure."
In a short statement, Buchanan said he plans to sell the historic building that housed the Inn and pursue other opportunities.
No Truffles, either: Speaking of landmarks, Truffles Pastry Shop, a mainstay in the West Side's historic Edgewater/Clifton neighborhood for almost 25 years, shuttered abruptly on July 31. Owner Dan Sheppard isn't returning e-mails, but we understand conflicts with his landlord and concerns about increasing crime may have led to his decision to close. With Truffles shuttered, only Sheppard's beloved sidewalk flower garden remains. "There's nothing left but the sunflowers," said one disappointed visitor.