Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ne:wa -- No:more?

It was just about a year ago (March 20, 2013), when UU broke the story about a new Nepalese restaurant opening on Clark Street.  The news got picked up by a lot of local blogs, particularly the foodie press.

Ne:wa had a website with photos of their food, and a Facebook page showing the interior.  We were very much looking forward to sampling their food.  They had hoped to open in July, but didn't.  They did open briefly for the Taste of Andersonville Dinner Crawl in August.

Then nothing.  We've been checking back intermittently to see what, if any, progress has been made and if there's an opening date.

Today when we checked:  No website.  No Facebook page.  Twitter site hasn't been updated in six months.

Draw whatever conclusions you'd like from that, but we're sorry to see someone's dreams and hopes not come to fruition.  We'd looked forward to seeing them open and adding to the diversity of our community.

Update:  We heard from someone close to the situation and it's a horrible story.  The owners of Ne:wa hired someone to act as an "expeditor," to get them through the permitting and build-out phase of opening a new restaurant.  As we've seen time and again, it's an arduous process, full of red tape, inspections and delays. Apparently they were nearly done with the build-out and on the verge of opening when -- you guessed it -- the "expeditor" disappeared.  As our source says, "He basically robbed them of all their money ... and [they] didn't even pass all of their inspections." Heartbreaking for the owners who got so close to seeing their dream realized, only to see it stolen from them.  The storefront sits abandoned and the restaurant's owners cannot be contacted.

We're posting this to get it on the record. If you are opening a business and someone approaches you promising to take care of everything, don't give him access to your funds. Pay as you go. Check references. And if someone says that they were involved with guiding Ne:wa through the permitting process, run away and change your passwords!


  1. For anyone opening a small business, remember that there is the Small Business Administration and SCORE Chicago. They will both help guide you through the process safely and securely and provide mentors so that you can learn from their mistakes instead of making a big one like this. I hope these guys get back on their feet and are able to eventually thrive in the neighborhood.

  2. The fact that you need an "expediter" is a joke to begin with. What happened to Rahm's promise to streamline this process? God forbid we get a tax-generating business open in under a year.

  3. Paul Collurafici, owner of Tattoo Factory and the soon to open bar on Broadway, can't post under his ID, but sent this comment along.

    "While navigating the wondrous road of red tape while trying to get Drink and Ink off the drawing board, one of the many hurdles set before me was that I had failed to pay my 'right of way' permit fee for the sign to hang in front of my store. I told them that I had already paid this fee, like I get to do every year.

    The city guy on the 6th floor told me that I would have to see an expediter. Conveniently for me... there was an expediter right there for me to talk to. I was made to feel like I had no choice. When I talked to the expediter he told me that for $700 he can get me proof that I paid the fee. I explained to him that I had the canceled check in my hand, what more proof do I need? His answer was "Ya, but I expedite things. If you try and do it yourself it could take 3-6 months. You're just better off paying me."

    So I was to pay him $700 to prove that I paid my $150 fee 5 months ago? Um, no thank you. I went to the 9th floor and when I went to show them my canceled check they did not want to see it. The guy said he had it on his computer and would print me a receipt.

    I took the receipt back down to the sixth floor and showed it to the person that said I did not pay. He looked at it, punched a couple of buttons on his computer and said "Fine, you're all done." He then tossed the paper back at me and said next time you'd be better off paying the expediter. It took me 15 minutes and did not cost me $700. What could the 'expediter' have done better? Maybe split with the city employee? Hmmm...

    Yet next election cycle we'll just keep voting them in all over again."