MK the Restaurant, site of fine cuisine and ‘First Dates,’ to close

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An exterior sign beckons diners to MK the Restaurant at 868 N. Franklin. | Sun-Times file

MK the restaurant, where River North diners enjoyed New American cuisine for 18 years and couples went on first dates aired on national television, is closing its doors next week.

A spokeswoman said Tuesday, June 13, will be the last night of service in the restaurant at 868 N. Franklin.

Chef-owner Michael Kornick said the decision was prompted by a need for renovations. “I needed the landlord to at least share in the expense of upgrades,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “My investors were ready to reinvest in the property, but without some help from the landlord, it was impossible.”

Michael Kornick

Michael Kornick

MK was the shooting site for “First Dates,” an NBC reality series that premiered in April. Cameras followed singles as they attempted to make a connection over a blind dinner date.

“Sometimes, people can make terrible miscues on their first dates — by taking someone to a place that is too fancy, or too obsessed with what it is and who it is, or with the celebrity chef who is behind it, and all that sort of thing,” producer John Hesling told the Sun-Times. “MK wasn’t that. It served very good food in a nice, warm, romantic atmosphere, and that was the reason we chose it.”

In 1999, not long after MK’s opening, Sun-Times dining critic Pat Bruno called it a “snappy, contemporary American restaurant. Menu choices are well balanced from top to bottom. This is a restaurant where the cuisine doesn’t make you play mind games (like, what am I eating here?). This is good food with no pretense; it is what it says it is. A bit expensive, but worth it.”

Kornick will continue to operate his DMK Burger Bar chain and on Friday will open Marshall’s Landing, a 12,000-square-foot lounge inside the Merchandise Mart.

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