NEWS

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November 12, 2002

Med cancels weekday breakfasts; moves smokers upstairs

The Medici on 57th Street no longer serves breakfast during the week as of yesterday. Instead of the usual 7 a.m. opening, the Hyde Park staple will now open at 11 a.m. for lunch Monday through Friday. The change is in response to the new Medici Bakery, which opened this past June.

The building that currently houses the Medici Bakery has seen many shifts over the years. Before the bakery, Ann Sather's, the Prairie City Diner, Fundamentals, and, most recently, Stay Up 4Ever, previously occupied the space.

Since its opening, the Medici Bakery has challenged the business of its next-door neighbor and owner, the Medici restaurant, something many regulars find curious and even a bit ironic. Although both the bakery and restaurant, along with the University Market also on 57th Street, are owned by Hans Morsbach and his HWM Service Corp, the bakery's success has forced the restaurant to reevaluate its services.

"People want a quicker, on-the-run breakfast," said Kirsten Sehley, general manager of the Medici. "We were losing money at the Medici and our 10-15 regular customers understand that it wasn't financially worth it."

"The Medici business cannot grow exponentially. There is only a certain amount of people that come down this street, and traffic is lower. We are in a limited market," said Jack Johnson, a Medici waiter.

The Medici has served the University and the Hyde Park community for over 40 years, and many regulars are undeniably angry at the new change.

"People are pissed that we are not serving breakfast," said Sarah Perleschi, a full-time employee at the Medici. "Everyone's complaining."

"I've been eating breakfast here for 20 years!" said one Hyde Park resident, something Sehley found amusing since the restaurant has only been offering breakfast for the past 10 years.

"There are a lot of misnomers about the Med, especially about its role in Hyde Park," Sehley said.

A revised smoking policy is also among the recent changes the Medici has been forced to make in order to remain competitive. In an attempt to appeal to non-smokers, the Medici moved its smoking section upstairs in late August.

"Most of our customers were not smokers anyway and even if [they are, they] choose to sit in non-smoking when told they must go upstairs," Johnson said. "Non-smokers have been thanking us constantly."

Even on the weekends, however, breakfast is not served upstairs, forcing smoking customers to choose between eating breakfast at the Medici and not smoking, or going elsewhere.

Some see the new changes to the Medici as signs of Hyde Park's ever-changing commercial landscape. In the past few years, Ciral's House of Tiki, the Palm Tavern, the Merdian Theater, Maxbrook Dry Cleaners, and Hyde and Seek Antiques have all closed. Valois and Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap have undergone significant makeovers and price increases, and the Florian Caffe has changed ownership. More recently, Lucky Strike-Hyde Park has opened, a proposed Bar Louie is scheduled to open in the Flamingo apartment building and a Borders Book Shop on 53rd Street.