Friday, July 24, 2009

Shaking a Fist at Urban Belly's Bill Kim

Bill, I don't know you, but I'd like to have a chat. I've been on food blogging hiatus for a few weeks while I transition out of a crazy job, exorcise the jumbo-sized stress I've accumulated while there, and get settled into a new workplace. I'm not exactly in a foodie headspace at the moment. But when I read that you bought out Vella to open another Urban Belly on Western, one burning question jumped to mind that I have to ask.

Do you have something against free market capitalism, Bill? Have you BEEN to the rest of Western Ave in that neighborhood? Did you maybe notice that there are like 12 zillion empty storefronts right NEXT to Vella where you could set up shop and compete with our talented friends there? Do you know how happy two great places would make us, Bill?

Ok, that's more than one question. And maybe the Vella babes were dying to get out. I don't know the whole story. All I know is, no more Everything but Meat Pizza with the caramelized onion smeared a quarter-inch thick on that perfect crust. No more scrambled eggs with sweet potato hash. Bloody hell, Bill! It's true, the place is a bone-rattling noise box. And there was that one time the delivery guy dropped our pizza, only to bring us a second one half an hour later with only two ingredients on it. But we worked all that out. Vella is a gem - most importantly our neighborhood's only gem of it's kind - where you can drop in for a quick, unique, delicious meal served by happy people. We do not need to swap it out for something else. We need options, Bill. Options.

It's one of the hardest parts about living in a big city.... getting emotionally attached to a hoodie joint. I mean, I'm still scarred from the loss of Filter's veggie reuben. Excuse me. I need to go find some Kleenex. 


  1. I'm pretty sure Bill has nothing against free-market capitalism. And I'm pretty sure Vella was going regardless of where Bill put his new restaurant.

  2. What's anti-capitalist about one party giving another party money in exchange for something they want?

    Hell, even if Bill Kim offered the landlord a much higher rent for the lease and Vella had nothing to do with it and didn't want to leave, there's still nothing anti-capitalist about it. It's pretty much exactly how capitalism works.

    He wanted that space, he gave someone money, he got the space.

    Give me a break.

  3. Anon, all I'm saying is that giving customers options and more market competition are muy bueno good... Unlike the pervasive fried pork taco smell at that same intersection where available space abounds. I hate fried pork, Anon. I want more choices.

    Dan, you're right. I know, I read about it for months in denial. But it bites.

  4. You all need to do your research before you start slamming one of our city's most generous and talented chefs. Bill Kim didn't take over Vella you crazy people; he helped the girls at Vella. They have had their business up for sale for the longest time. EVERYONE in the restaurant business KNOWS that the Vella girls have had their restaurant for sale and NO ONE was buying. Chef Kim came to the rescue when he learned the Vella girls were selling at the same time that he was looking for a space. It was a win, win situation that benefited both parties. Check the MLS (real estate listings) and you will see the proof. Better yet, walk into Vella and ask the girls yourself. They will tell you just as they told my husband and I. Bill Kim is a wonder man and a very talented Chef. Our beautiful city is lucky to have him. Do your homework before you try to defame his character. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

  5. Hi, TA. I'm certain Bill is lovely guy and quite talented, and I hear great things about Urban Belly. Thanks for the passion that you bring to your food blog reading, and the pointer toward the ever-helpful real estate database. I must admit, I simply don't cruise it enough.

    Also, could be illuminating to look this up:

    Cheers! E.

  6. I really can't believe that someone would post such half-researched slander as this. Vella is a great place and I am sad to see it go, but launching a slew of misinformation at one of Chicago's most generous chefs who actually helped the Vella girls in a down market? I am personally excited to get something new in the neighborhood, and if you stop by Vella and actually talk to them, you may be suprised to find that the closing really has nothing to do with Bill Kim at all. By the way, Urban Belly is a small neighborhood restaurant with a loyal following and many of the same attributes that you described about liking in Vella so much. And free market capitalism? He's not putting a McDonald's there, he owns one other restaurant. And how could you hate fried pork yet blog about food...

  7. Stating an opinion about wanting chefs like the Vella girls and Kim to open more high quality restaurants in my neighborhood is hardly slander. And what kind of movie writer would Ebert be if he loved every movie he saw? Not a very good one. There are things I don't like to eat. I'm normal that way. It certainly shouldn't prevent anyone from writing about food. That's what blogging is all about.

  8. This is like blaming the weatherman for bringing bad weather. This isn't tongue in cheek--it's foot in mouth.