Customers react to Grand Lux Cafe, a Michigan Ave staple, closing down

The Grand Lux Cafe, 600 N. Michigan Ave., has spent 21 years at its Mag Mile location.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Jesus Solis lives in Joliet but came into Chicago Friday morning so he could surprise his goddaughter for her birthday with breakfast at the Grand Lux Cafe. 

He was surprised to learn that the restaurant would be closing by the end of the year.

“It’s a really good restaurant, so it’s gonna be missed,” he said.

The Magnificent Mile staple announced Thursday that it will serve its last customers on Dec. 24 after 21 years at the location.

Workers were informed this week that the Grand Lux Cafe, created by the founders of the Cheesecake Factory, would be closing.

Jesus Solis said he was surprised to hear about the restaurant’s closing.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“We are working with our staff to help them transition to other opportunities in one of our nearby concepts,” the company said in prepared statement. “We have enjoyed being a part of the downtown Chicago community and hope that our guests will continue to dine with us at our other restaurants in the area.”

The company did not give a reason for the closure.

The lavish gold decor and expansive menu attracted customers from the city, the suburbs and around the country. Many took to social media to express sadness, disappointment and surprise about the closure.

“GRAND LUX CAFE IS CLOSING. THEY CLOSED RAINFOREST CAFE. WHATS NEXT???? RECKLESS RECORDS???? THE RIVER WALK???? THE ART INSTITUTE????? EVERYTHING ELSE I HOLD DEAR AND SACRED????” X user @addisonecsmith posted on the social media site formerly known as Twitter.


— veronica sawyer (@addisonecsmith) November 10, 2023

On Friday, the restaurant at 600 N. Michigan Ave. was filled with customers, many waiting on velvet benches to be seated.

Fred Williams, 28, who was visiting Chicago from Washington, D.C., said he was sad to hear about the closure. Williams said he appreciates the restaurant’s variety, but he really came for the baked-to-order cookies.

“I have a cousin that lives here. I hadn’t ever met her, and she took me. This is actually where we went,” Williams said. “When I see her later today, I’ll be letting her know that it’s closing.”

Solis said he’s seen a lot of restaurants closing recently, adding that it feels “terrible.”

Libertyville resident Gary Watanabe, 80, said he’s been coming to the restaurant a few times a year since it opened in 2002.

Gary Watanabe, a customer of the Grand Lux Cafe, has been frequenting the restaurant since its opening.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The restaurant is decorated with a spiraling gold design on the walls and elaborate light fixtures. The main restaurant is on the second floor above an entry lobby. Watanabe said he’s not sure what will be able to fill the large space.

“That first year, I saw this new restaurant, so we came here,” he said.

Watanabe said it was crowded when it opened, and remains crowded now.

The Grand Lux is the latest in a string of closures in the area. Retail vacancy is now about 18% on North Michigan Avenue, according to a report by brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield.

In September, the beloved Signature Room at the top of the former John Hancock Center permanently shuttered, citing economic hardship.

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