LINDEN HILLS — Though it’s done brisk business since opening at 2724 W. 43rd St. in 2002, Café Twenty Eight will soon close.
Reached for comment just moments after she broke the bad news to her kitchen staff on Oct. 11, owner Linda Haug, choking back tears, said the restaurant is closing because landlords Joanne and Tom Ellison want to take the property in a different direction and decided not to extend the restaurant’s lease.
Haug said she decided last summer to sell Café Twenty Eight to longtime employee Russ Conlon so that she could focus her energies on helping her husband, Surly brewmaster Todd Haug, get Surly’s on-site restaurant off the ground.
She said Conlon developed a business plan and was excited about the opportunity to run the restaurant, but the Ellisons have other ideas.
“We’re still a busy, viable business. My employee is ready and [selling] would’ve kept everybody here employed,” Haug said. “I thought it was a good situation for all involved, but I guess I overestimated how much a seamless transition meant [to the landlords].”
Haug said she isn’t yet sure when Café Twenty Eight’s last day of business will be, but said the restaurant may close at the end of the year.
Joanne Ellison said she and her husband “hate to see Linda go” and “strongly considered” the possibility of extending Café Twenty Eight’s lease with Conlon as the new owner.
In the end, however, the Ellisons were concerned that Conlon, in his mid-20s, may not have enough experience to run a restaurant. That concern, combined with the fact that other appealing tenant possibilities have emerged since Haug decided to leave Café Twenty Eight in July, convinced them the best course of action is to go in a different direction.
“We understand change is inevitable,” Joanne Ellison said. “We decided to make a change mainly because Linda is leaving, but we hope the new tenant will be a shot in the arm for the neighborhood.”
Ellison confirmed the next tenant will be a restaurant, but added that it’s far too early in the process to supply more details.
— Reach Aaron Rupar at email@example.com. On Twitter at @atruparJournals.