On Wednesday night, James Beard winners Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim announced that they wouldn’t be reopening Wherewithall, their Avondale restaurant that had been closed since May.
Kim and Clark are mostly known for Parachute, recognized as one of the best Korean restaurants in America. Last year, they overhauled the restaurant to refocus on more traditional Korean cuisine, whereas the first iteration was more reflective of the perspective of a child of an immigrant living in America.
At Wherewithall, 3472 N. Elston Avenue, the idea was to give Avondale an affordable and dependable prix fixe meal, one that could casually take customers who aren’t accustomed to the world of fine dining out of their comfort zones. While the restaurant, which opened in July 2019, immediately earned positive attention, the pandemic and the dining restrictions that came in March 2020 halted the momentum.
As the restaurant world approached a new normal, Wherewithall was hit with another obstacle. In May, a sewer line collapsed and the restaurant had to wait for the city to dig up the street for repairs. The collapse also caused damage to the pipe system, which the restaurant had to pay for itself. Between the pandemic, which led the state to suspend indoor dining twice, and this latest challenge, Kim and Clark didn’t have the reserve for a third reopening in four years.
“Had we launched Wherewithall at another time, who knows? The restaurant might have enjoyed a much longer life,” an email sent to customers on Wednesday and an Instagram announcement read. “But forces of nature that were beyond our control intervened, and we have given ourselves over to acceptance, and a willingness to go where the universe is nudging us.”
Clark and Kim teased that they’ll replace Wherewithall with “something new and exciting” later this year.