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After a Short Run, M Restaurant Closes

The southern-style, upscale restaurant owned by Kentucky-native Missy Crovetti opened in the summer of 2011 in downtown Highland Park.

M Restaurant, located at the corner of Central Avenue and Green Bary Road in Highland Park, closed last week.

The southern-style, upscale restaurant owned by Kentucky-native Missy Crovetti opened in the summer of 2011.

"We were disappointed to see they had closed their doors to the public," said Highland Park Deputy City Manager Ghida Neukirch.

The city is currently working with the building's property owners to find leads for new businesses.

"We are taking proactive measures to find businesses that compliment our business community," Neukirch said.

M marks the third recent restaurant closure in Highland Park, after Corner Bakery and Stashs. The trend is consistent with the Chicago area at this time of the year, according to Neukirch. The holiday season is traditionally a slower time for businesses, and that combined with the fact that a lot of leases are up leads to business closings. 

"It's definitely not unique to our community," Neukirch said.

The Deputy City Manager said she did not think the shuttered Highland Park Theatre played a role in the recent closings. Some Highland Park residents, like real estate developer Jon Plotkin, told Patch earlier this year that the closed, city-owned theater would hurt downtown businesses.

"Going into the holiday season with a dark space at that end," Plotkin said, "Does not bode well for merchants up and down the street."

Neukirch said that the downtown offers ample activity to make up for the theater. She pointed to the recent opening of Perchance Boutique in Renaissaice Place as an example of new businesses bringing new activity to the city.

Downtown merchants also got together last weekend for a holiday event to attract shoppers to the area, and The Music Theatre Company continues to attract crowds with its performances.

"There's still a lot of draw to the community," Neukirch said. 

Editor's note: Patch will be reaching out to M's property owners as part of its continued coverage of businesses opening and closing in Highland Park. Have an idea of what should fill in that space? Leave a comment below.

Jeff Wheeler December 13, 2012 at 11:09 PM
My wife and I go to Evanston and Highwood all the time for dinner and we don't mind walking to the restaurant or taking the train...
Jeff Wheeler December 13, 2012 at 11:17 PM
And this is a better point .... my wife refuses to go to Benjamin because one day we went there -- right around the time they opened -- and got the worst service from the Maitre d' when taking us in. They were half full on a weeknight, I had a reservation for 2 with a Restaurant.com coupon. We decided to bring our 2 year old daughter (very well behaved) and leave our older one with my wife's parents. We got the worst service from her about adding a 3rd seat for our daughter. Excuses like "sorry we are full and can't accommodate the child". We went to Potbelly instead, where I hopped on my phone and looked at their OpenTable available seats and sure enough they had plenty of room. Never going there again. Stuck up service.
Steve December 14, 2012 at 03:52 AM
My feelings do not fit in one post so please bare with me and read this in sections. I have read enough of these comments and they are driving me batty. The reason a business goes out of business is because the residents of the town and the surrounding communities don't support it. Plain and simple. Now if this restaurant did not do a good job with the food or the pricing then they hung themselves. I am so sick of hearing how bad everyone feels when a business fails in their neighborhood. But I have to ask you, When was the last time you went and supported the business that failed? Without the communities support no business will succeed. To the individual who said get a business in the space no matter what it is... Guess what, your position on saving the taxpayers by getting any old business in the space, especially a bank that pays zero taxes to the city, certainly will not keep the politicians from raising your taxes. You need a business that contributes to the city's economy to keep the city from reaching in your pockets. That is why the city gets involved and attempts to choose wisely. And as far as the chain businesses are concerned, they are already over saturated in this area. We need mom and pop places back again. People love to shop at places with varied goods and services, based upon the owners taste and personality. Do you get that from a chain or big business? No!
Steve December 14, 2012 at 03:52 AM
I can tell you from experience in Highwood that to many like businesses are the problem here. To many Dry Cleaners, To many Chinese restaurants, To many Latin Markets, To many Liquor stores, to many Hair Salons, etc... When to many of any business comes to an area then none of them will do well. There are only so many customers to go around in a market area. Which means none of the businesses get the amount of customers they need to do well. Which is another reason that cities who wish to thrive, pay attention to who and what is allowed to open within the city's boundaries. It is in the best interest of the city, it's residents and it's businesses. Has anyone brought up the current state of the paranoid economy? Nobody is out spending anything but what they absolutely have to this year, and in recent years as well. There is a huge fear of what the economy holds for us as citizens in the coming years. So until Chicken Little stops running around telling everyone the sky is falling the economy will not get better. So long as we all hold our purse strings so tight and do not go out and support these businesses, they will continue to fail and, consequently the economy will still suffer. We need currency to change hands in order for a free market economy to thrive. So get out there and spend some money folks.
Steve December 14, 2012 at 03:53 AM
As far as the suggestion for a Greek restaurant, Here Here!! The Greek restaurant you spoke of on Roger Williams in Ravinia was years ago and it was called the Agean Isles, it was outstanding. So was Yannis OPA in Highwood, but both suffered lack of customer disease. The demographic of this area has one problem, If you draw a 5 mile circle around a business location in Highland Park, Highwood, Lake forest, Lake Bluff, Glencoe etc... at least 1/3 of that circle is going to be out in Lake Michigan, and fish don't go out to dinner or lunch. So the locations have a disadvantage from the get go. All the more reason to need the communities support. So while everyone is trying to figure out why all these businesses are closing, look in the mirror, are you supporting them? Or are you going to Costco or Sam's Club where you can get that Hot Dog and a drink for a $1.50 . It seems the only way to get a customer these days is to price your services or products so cheap that you as a business owner loose money. And last I checked, that was not a formula for staying in business. Businesses like Costco can afford to have lost leaders like the $1.50 hot dog and drink, because they are making up the difference on that bulk bag of Oreo cookies you are taking home, or the gross of frozen potato skins that are going to crowd everything else out of your freezer! Most small businesses do not have that ability.
Steve December 14, 2012 at 03:54 AM
I am a business owner in the area as well and I can tell you business visit frequency has gone down steadily for the past three plus years. Most of us are hanging on by a thread. This year is the absolute slowest Holiday season I have had in my career. And I have been plying my trade since 1979. So I know my product and service are up to par. I watch my competitions prices closely and I know I am competitive. This is why as business owners we are so bloody frustrated. We love what we do, but we need your support. Hope and Change were promised during the campaigns... Hope for some change in my pocket is all I have seen so far. I wish I had a better and more hopeful outlook. But until something changes the only light I see at the end of the tunnel is a train coming my direction. So prove me wrong and listen to American Expresses new small business campaign. Read the Holiday signs Highland Park has put up, Get out and support your local businesses if you want to keep your city healthy and the politicians out of your pockets. We will gladly pay our share of the sales tax to the community that supports us. But without support from the residents of the towns we have our business in, then we are dead in the water and your taxes will likely go up. Let's all have a great Holiday Season this year, Go out and patronize your city's local businesses with great frequency and stories like this one will become a thing of the past. Thanks for listening.
AK December 14, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Oversupply of high end stores during the worst economic downturn.
Benny G. December 14, 2012 at 04:02 AM
So Steve S. Cornery Bakery's food was bad and not well priced? You are delusional. Michael's food is good and overpriced but still strong. HP is a restaurant enigma.
Jack Straw December 14, 2012 at 04:51 AM
I wish you luck Steve, you are preaching to the choir here. The race to the bottom is now in its final stages. We live in the land of the over educated and under informed, the feel good voters that pay contractors 15 bucks an hour and scream that the government need to pay for health care.
David Greenberg December 14, 2012 at 05:41 AM
In my opinion, Corner Bakery wasn't anything to write home about. The prices weren't that great either - not overpriced, but not too attractive that I couldn't get the same fare elsewhere for less.... I went there a few times but could never really figure out how they made any money... Michael's is good and overpriced - but it's been around for a few generations. People go there because they went there as kids and know what they're getting. Good food, good service. They take their kids because they trust it, enjoyed it as kids themselves, and want their kids to enjoy it too. Michael's added a salad bar, yogurt bar, and a regular bar that opens for private parties. I can honestly say I've NEVER gotten sick from the food at Michael's. Stash's - I could have made that claim when the old man owned it, but after he left - ummm, no. And when it moved into that hybrid fast-food/bistro experiment, I suddenly remembered why I stopped going there - that food went right through at hyper-speed...
David Greenberg December 14, 2012 at 05:45 AM
It depends on what you do or offer - but consider expanding your customer base via the Internet. If you can ship what you sell, start advertising on the Net and consider the whole World (or at least the whole Country) your "neighborhood". The price of gas, food (affected by corn being turned into fuel), and a myriad of other issues mean that if someone doesn't have to go out of their house to get what they want, and they can get it delivered - they're probably going to do that - especially if the price and shipping costs are right. No traffic. No parking. No gas. You know what it is, it shows up at your door when you want it there. What's the advantage to shopping in a brick/mortar store again?
David Greenberg December 14, 2012 at 05:49 AM
I'll tell you what - SERVICE is what I value most of all. Then the product, then the price. Everyone's got the product, everyone knows everyone else's prices. The way you differentiate yourself is via SERVICE. I went to a local restaurant in Highwood this evening for dinner with about 50 of my closest friends - the fare was OK (nothing to rave about), the service was slow. Will I go back? Not bloody likely. there's a million restaurants to choose from, and if all else fails, I'm a good cook and don't mind doing it so I don't need to pay for bad service or food.
David Greenberg December 14, 2012 at 05:53 AM
If this is true, it couldn't happen soon enough. Back in the day La Palmas had good food and service - I and my friends had a lot of parties and events there. As of the past few years, the food isn't anything special, and the service is lousy. Try Blue Grass - great food, friendly EVERYBODY (esp. the owner and Chef), and the service is great. Prices are decent too. It's off the beaten path by the Police Station, but it's survived because everything is good. Bad restaurants win the Darwin Award.
Steve December 14, 2012 at 06:23 AM
David, I understand what you are saying, but I think you have missed my point. The discussion here was about yet another business closing in Highland Park, And why. The point I was attempting to get across is that we as members of our community need to support that community if we are to have a viable city. The city not only depends on real estate taxes for revenue, it subsidizes that income with revenues generated for them by the local business community. My point is don't complain about taxes rising or a non viable community if your not willing to go out and support the very entities that are there not only for your enjoyment and or convenience, but also for contributing to your communities economic health. You do not help your community by shopping on the internet, or by supporting big box stores in Vernon Hills. The Wal Marts of the world support China and places alike, They do not support Highland park or Highwood. Mom and Pop stores are founded by risk taking entrepreneuars who seek a better life. They create a place for others not only to shop and enjoy, but also create jobs as well as collect taxes to aid the community. My feeling is if we are to turn this economic crisis around, we need to do it by supporting America. And supporting America and Americans starts at home.
GFunk December 14, 2012 at 07:11 AM
I ordered a piece of fish at bluegrass tonight for $28, but it didn't phase me.. The waiter was awsome, the owner came to the table, the quality was excellent - CONSISTENCY. I go to bluegrass 3-4 times per month. Expensive, sorta. Locally owned, yes. Quality, you betcha. People will always pay for quality.
Moe @ the Buck December 14, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I will have to try Bluegrass. I've never been there before. Maybe that area is a best kept secret because Players Grill is very successful. Hell, the place even burned down, came back, and is still popular.
Jack Straw December 14, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Can’t say enough about Jim Lederer his wife and Chef Warren. Three thumbs up nice people great food.
AK December 14, 2012 at 05:28 PM
I wish I could learn more about why Michael's food is considered so good. The more i learn about local restaurants the more I feel people don't really care about high quality food and the majority doesn't have any good taste buds. Because what is considered good is quite mediocre and I disregard price and service here completely. Just food itself - most people are clueless.
AK December 14, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Looks like Moe is the major local food expert. Wonder what he thinks of Michael's and the similar price ranged like Once Upon a Bagel and similar.
Ted Holleb December 15, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Steve, As a Highland Park restaurant owner struggling to keep going. I could not agree more. To fill our seats we are couponing and grouponing our businesses into a hole we hope we can crawl out of. We do have wonderful regulars from Highland Park that try to support us. Unfortunately pulling from a Highland Park is not enough these days. There are many restaurants and businesses to support. We need to be pulling more customers from outside our city as well. Losing a theater or a major retailer only hurts our chances of bringing traffic from other communities. I wish more people would talk to us in person about what they dislike about our restaurants so we can improve to keep you coming. Reading some of the negative comments about our restaurants here isn't a way to help us improve. We all have web sites with email addresses and I for one would love to hear what you would like to see on our menu. Service issues need to be addressed as well. We want you to be happy and I can't tell you enough how much we relay on your feedback to improve. Everyone needs to help each other in these tough times. We only hope to survive until things improve for all of us. Please let us know what we can do to keep you as our guests.
Steve S. December 15, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Thanks, no I'm not, but I do work in Highland Park in a service business. I have watched business and restaurants open and close around me for 19 years. When Norton's opened, everyone said they will be gone in a year. The owners, learned their customers names, took the feedback and really changed menus to adapt. Today the business is still healthy (at least from the standpoint of seats filled.) As far as people coming from somewhere else to eat in HP. Yes, that will happen. I live in Deerfield, I eat out 3 nights a week, if the food and service is good, I will travel to HP, lake forest, lincolnshire, winnetka, evanston, and chicago.
Steve S. December 15, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I ate at corner Bakery 3 times a week from the time it opened. The cobb salad was smaller and less "fresh" than the same priced salads at Norton's, Love's , Michaels, or even subway for that matter. As this year progressed those salads got skimpier and skimpier to the point where I stopped going there this summer and now grab a nice turkey sandwich from the guys at Perfect Blend. I am not delusional, the food at corner bakery was not bad, but it also wasn't great, if the food is good the price is less of an issue. If someone is looking for a bargain they can go to Mcdonalds for a buck. Yes Michaels is strong, because the food is good, therefore people will show up and pay the extra 15% to eat what they want. Thanks for the diagnosis.
Richard H Heineman Jr December 15, 2012 at 05:51 PM
It might be my imagination, but quality might have gone down since the chain was purchased by http://www.roarkcapital.com/. It started out as a lettuce entertain you, Rich Melman concept that was taken national by Bringer (Owner of Chili's) . Roark Capital Group was named after Howard Roark, the protagonist in Ayn Rand's classic The Fountainhead. Perhaps this has something to do with it.
Richard H Heineman Jr December 16, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I was talking about Corner Bakery.
Mara Meyer December 16, 2012 at 06:46 PM
I agree with you Rick!
David Greenberg December 17, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Steve, I got your point - I and several dear friends are serial entrepreneurs, so I know full well the risks one takes when starting a new business. I'm happy to support local businesses but for me - it's a cost/benefit ratio. What do I pay for the product, transportation, parking, and my time to acquire the item? If I can get it somewhere less expensive, and make better use of my time - I will. Sounds harsh I know, but that's the reality of the Internet-connected world we live in. Does it have an impact on tax revenues? Sure. But that's not my fault - it's the fault of the taxing bodies. If they'd reduce their rates to be competitive, perhaps more people would patronize the entities in their jurisdictions.
Kate February 10, 2013 at 04:29 PM
You have to be able to support a mixed bag of eating establishments. Some adults do want to go to restaurants that don't cater to screaming babies and unruly kids...preferring a grown up menu and atmosphere. There are enough family oriented restaurants in HP.....
AK February 10, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Kate, are you looking for a fresh "grown up menu" or you want to offer one?
David Greenberg February 11, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Sure adults want to go to restaurants where the screaming kids aren't - but you need to have a base of customers from which to draw. Service, product, price, parking, additional attractions, etc. all need to be in place in order to attract and retain customers. A lot of higher-end places have valet parking, or have easier transportation to/from the location. The traffic in downtown/uptown HP is, and always has been, a nightmare. It's not right off the highway - there's a bunch of stoplights in between, and a cash-grabbing red light camera on 41/Park Ave to contend with. Green Bay Road turns into a nightmare for traffic as well - lots of stop lights, essentially two lanes only so it backs up when someone wants to turn. Ravinia Traffic is absolutely ridiculous at times.... Southbound traffic on GBR goes right by Highwood with a large number of restaurants, so that's something else to contend with... There's some nice restaurants up in Lincolnshire on Milwaukee Ave. Sure the traffic up there can be nighmareish at times, but you can valet if you want, and after eating head on over to the Lincolnshire Marriott to catch a show. There's restaurants all up and down Milwaukee Ave because the traffic counts support it. If I recall correctly, the traffic count at Milwaukee and Deerfield/Riverwoods Road is something like 45,000 vehicles per day....
D'skidoc February 11, 2013 at 01:05 AM
Of course you will Steve, 'cause there aint jack in DF.

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