Lawry’s The Prime Rib to close at end of year after 46 years in Chicago

The beloved steakhouse is closing due to a confluence of unfortunate events, including the coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest and an expiring lease.

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Lawry’s The Prime Rib announced its plans to close its doors at end of year after 46 years in Chicago.

Screenshot from Google Maps

Lawry’s The Prime Rib, which has been a River North staple for nearly half a century, is shutting its doors at the end of this year.

Ryan Wilson, CEO of Lawry’s Inc., said the beloved steakhouse, located at 100 E. Ontario St., is closing due to a confluence of unfortunate events, including the coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest and an expiring lease. 

Wilson said discussions about potentially closing Lawry’s in Chicago have been going on for weeks. Staffers were notified of the news Saturday.

“We’ve done everything we can to hold on, but as things continue to — I don’t want to say drag on, but as the pandemic and closures get longer, we’re playing the long game here,” Wilson told the Sun-Times in a phone interview Sunday. “[We] decided we need to hit pause for our time right now in Chicago and our time at 100 E. Ontario.” 

Despite Lawry’s Inc. closing the steakhouse and its adjacent gastropub, called SideDoor, Wilson was quick to note that he truly hopes he can return to Chicago in the future.

“I love Chicago,” Wilson said. “I want to come back to Chicago... Lawry’s, the concept and the warmth of our hospitality has a real place in that dining culture and community. So that’s why I say pause. That’s my optimism shining through even in the turmoil of today.”

Wilson’s grandfather opened Lawry’s The Prime Rib in 1974, and his family has been in love with the city since.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in Chicago,” Wilson said. “My wife and I both love Chicago. We believe it to be one of the best food cities in the country if not the world. And there’s something so interesting about the combination of great design and architecture and the heritage of that in Chicago, amazing food and the creative talent and then the midwestern warmth and hospitality. I think it’s a really unique combination that we love. I think it’s driving me to want to continue to be a part of that community.”

Wilson said Lawry’s “absolutely” plans to make the most of its last 15 weeks in Chicago — Dec. 31 is its final night. He said it was important to publicly share the news of the restaurant closing so patrons would have time to visit the steakhouse at least one more time. He also wanted to make sure the 100-plus employees had times to prepare for the future. 

“We’ve had 46, almost 47 years of great dining and success and legacy and incredible coworker experiences,” Wilson said. “I want to be back in the city, I want to be back as a part of that community.”

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