The Preservery, a RiNo mainstay, will close its doors for good on Sunday

The Preservery, a new-American restaurant/market/deli that opened at 3040 Blake St. in April 2016, will close its doors on Sunday, Sept. 4, according to an announcement made online.

The restaurant helped set a standard in the River North Art District with its food, which rose above the standard fare in the adjacent Ballpark neighborhood, as well as its warehouse-chic aesthetic and its ability to straddle the difficult line between being trendy and being real.

In a blog post on the restaurant’s website, Whitney Ariss, who owns the Preservery with her husband and business partner, Obe Ariss, said there were two harsh realities behind the decision.

“The first is that as long as we were tenants renting from a landlord, we were always going to be handing over any modest profits toward the cause of making a wealthy person (or company) even wealthier,” she wrote, adding that rent has increased almost 30% in seven years.

“Secondly, as long as we were running a restaurant we were always going to be tethered to it. Our greatest liberation was becoming our own bosses, but we couldn’t really claim that freedom when we had to be physically present for every operational hour of every operational day,” she added.

And finally, she wrote that the pandemic closures and the accompanying difficulties of keeping the restaurant running during that time had a long-lasting effect.

But it was also during the pandemic, in December 2020, that Whitney had an epiphany. Driving through a snowstorm to get to work one morning, she saw “numerous tent encampments around the neighborhood looking both vulnerable and brave, all blanketed in white.”

“It seemed so shameful that we had a big, beautiful kitchen and a team of capable cooks who wanted to feed people while there were folks living right outside our door in terribly harsh conditions who really needed a hot, wholesome meal,” she wrote on the blog.

As a result, even though the Arisses have sold the business and are closing The Preservery, they have kept the rights to the name and plan to start a nonprofit venture providing hunger relief to people experiencing homelessness — an effort they had started a few years earlier.

“We are closing our restaurant ‘for good’ so we can go do some good,” Whitney wrote. “One day soon we hope to purchase a commercial property and have a brick and mortar business again, but next time it will be on our own terms and in service to our community.

“Our society is so obsessed with the grind and there is perhaps no industry that better epitomizes this mentality than the restaurant industry … What we’ve come to realize after all these years of grinding is that what matters most to us is doing as much good as we can while we are still occupying this earth and spending quality time with the ones we love.”

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