‘COVID … Got The Best Of Us’

LOGAN SQUARE — Paladar Cuban Restaurant and Rum Bar in Logan Square has permanently closed due to the pandemic, joining a long list of Chicago restaurants and bars that have fallen under the weight of the crisis.

Owner Jose Gonzalez shut down Paladar, located at 2252 N. Western Ave., at the end of October during the fall surge of COVID-19. This week, Gonzalez announced the Cuban restaurant and rum bar will not reopen.

In a goodbye post on Facebook, Gonzalez wrote: “To all my loyal customers, fans and friends, it brings me great sadness to announce that after 9 years Paladar will be closing its doors. We tried to survive but covid and regulations got the best of us. I want to thank everyone for their support through the years. I truly enjoyed meeting everyone, I will miss you.”

Like other family-run restaurants and bars across the city, Paladar has struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic. Gonzalez said he received some financial relief in the form of a Paycheck Protection Program loan but that money only lasted two months and then they were “back to 0.”

“I tried to keep the restaurant open for carryout … I was paying more for my staff and having the place open than I was ringing up,” he said.

The closure marks the end of the Gonzalez family’s more than 30-year presence on Western Avenue. Before Paladar, Gonzalez’s parents and brother ran the Cuban restaurant Cafe Bolero at the same location for more than 20 years.

Gonzalez said for months he fought to keep Paladar open and uphold the family’s legacy, but he reached a point where he couldn’t hang on any longer. He said he’ll miss the customers he’s formed lasting friendships with over the years.

“I’m going to miss a lot of people, but I couldn’t continue bleeding this way. You gotta stop the bleeding,” he said.

“All of the mom and pop shops — it’s a shame, but I don’t see them being very successful down the line. It was already difficult before the COVID. The COVID was just the frosting on the cake.”

Fortunately for fans of Paladar, some of the restaurant’s menu items, including its sandwiches, croquettes and empanadas, will be available at El Cid, 2645 N. Kedzie Ave., moving forward. The Gonzalez family also owns El Cid.

Gonzalez said right now they have no plans to close El Cid, which he said has fared better during the pandemic than Paladar because tacos are more accessible and cheaper than Cuban food.

“We’re going to continue with that as long as we can,” he said. “We’ll see how that goes.”

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