Updates to Hyde Park restaurant scene

“Hyde Park…has a big potential for business and for the kind of food we serve.”

By Cairo Lewis

Two longtime Hyde Park restaurants have permanently locked their doors in the midst of Hyde Park’s changing business environment. Most recently, Wok N Roll on East 53rd Street and HomeMade Pizza Co. on 55th Street have closed.

Wok N Roll, a Chinese restaurant located at 1408 East 53rd Street at the intersection of Dorchester Avenue, closed on October 21 and will be moving, according to a sign posted on the storefront. When and to where the restaurant will be moving has not yet been revealed. Meanwhile, the owner of Wok N Roll recently opened another restaurant, Red Snapper, which is located in the same strip mall as Wok N Roll, at 1418 East 53rd Street.

Red Snapper co-owner Khalil H. Khalil was not affiliated with Wok N Roll but is very enthusiastic about bringing more business to Hyde Park. “Who wouldn’t open in Hyde Park? Hyde Park is a very nice community and I believe it has a big potential for business and for the kind of food we serve,” Khalil said. Red Snapper is his sixth restaurant opening in Chicago.

HomeMade Pizza Co., located at 1546 East 55th Street, closed on May 30 as a result of the chain’s declaration of bankruptcy. Although the University owns the property where it was located, the University’s Office of Civic Engagement did not receive an advance notice of this closing.

A short-term pop-up store, Amy’s Candy Bar, will be opening in the HomeMade Pizza Co. restaurant’s former location. The opening is planned for today.

The University of Chicago has been responsible for recruiting several businesses into the Hyde Park area in the past. Some examples of University-recruited businesses are Kilwin’s Chocolates and Fudge, Sir & Madame, Chipotle, the Promontory, A10, Porkchop, Native Foods, and Red Mango.

James Hennessy, the associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University of Chicago, said he hopes that these shops will be lucrative enough to continue business in Hyde Park in the future. “The pop-up shops are one strategy to bring in the kinds of retail options the local community has told us they want to see, in addition to the restaurants and other amenities we’ve had great success in attracting to the area,” Hennessy wrote on the University’s 53rd Street blog.

Other Hyde Park businesses that have closed since 2013 are pastry and lunch shop The Big Easy and Upper Crust Bakery, Italian restaurant Edwardo’s of Hyde Park, and American fast food joint Ribs n’ Bibs.