Spring for sale: The popular Bucktown restaurant hits the market

May 6, 2010



Spring Restaurant, housed in a former Turkish bath in Bucktown, could be yours...

After nearly 18 months of back-and-forth negotiations, the co-owners of Spring have decided to sell their critically-acclaimed, seafood-focused‚ restaurant in Bucktown.

"We'd been trying to figure out how to distribute three assets, split two ways," said Peter Drohomyrecky, a co-owner of not only Spring, but also Green Zebra and Custom House Tavern with his wife Sue and chef Shawn McClain. "There was a contention about what was fair."

Originally, McClain had wanted to focus on his new project, Sage, inside the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas, taking Green Zebra with him; the Drohomyreckys would keep Custom House Tavern, and the two sides thought they would sell Spring. Drohomyrecky says McClain changed his mind, wanting to keep both Green Zebra and Spring. "Then it became contentious. We could never come to terms with what three restaurants were worth. About five weeks ago he alerted to us that he wanted to sell Spring. Sue and I readily agreed," said Drohomyrecky who has signed a listing agreement with Simons Restaurant Exchange in Chicago. Asking price: $300,000, which includes everything inside the business and its liquor license.

Spring opened in June of 2001 and was instantly nominated for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the Country (it lost to Craft in New York City). Drohomyrecky points to the economy as one factor but also to the changing nature of he and his wife's relationship with their talented chef.

"The economy certainly affected every restaurant. Was that a factor? Possibly," said Drohomyrecky. "Shawn and Sue and I had a terrific run of almost 10 years, and as we grow and our needs change, Sue and I want to be operators -- we like being operators -- and Shawn wants to do more management deals and travel. It was time for Spring to go. I think I can honestly say this economic crash changed the way people dine. Spring was extraordinary in its time, but in order to move it forward we would have had‚ to invest more time than we wanted to," he said.

Doug Simons has 25 years of experience selling restaurants in Chicago, handling real estate business for places like mk, Kamehachi, Adobo Grill and Tizzi Melloul (twice). He says there are assurances from the landlord to work favorably with the new tenant, and the asking price of $300,000 for the 5,300 square foot space is a bargain. "You would have to spend between one and $1.5 million to do this space from scratch," said Simons. "Yes, it's a bit of a challenged location; all of the foot traffic is East. It's a great-looking building, very nice space, but somewhat of a destination. You've got to be a good chef like Shawn to draw people there." But he points out location isn't always a factor - using Jean Banchet's Le Français in Wheeling as a prime example. "If you are unique, innovative, and great at what you do, you can open up anywhere," he said.

All would-be restaurateurs interested in the business can call Simons at 312-804-1900.