KIT, a pop-up space from MeMe’s Diner co-owner Libby Willis, is closing

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When MeMe’s Diner, the queer diner of Libby Willis and Bill Clark, announced its closure in the fall of 2020, fans of the Prospect Heights restaurant mourned the loss. The following summer, Willis took over the space from the old MeMe and relaunched it as KIT, an acronym for Keep in Touch, a pop-up incubator that aimed to keep some of the world alive. spirit of MeMe with an eye on gay-owned businesses. Now, less than a year later, Willis has confirmed to Eater that KIT shut down for good last month.

In a texted statement, Willis attributed the closure to financial and personal challenges stemming from the pandemic: “I really wanted to try something new and different with KIT. I wanted to try to find a way to make a living in the food industry and under capitalism. But, with a very small team and even smaller resources, it was really difficult. She added that KIT had not received the restaurant revitalization funds she was hoping for.

In its tenure at 657 Washington Ave, near Saint Marks Avenue, KIT has given a platform to several small businesses, including Black Cat Wines and alcoholic jelly cake company Solid Wiggles, in addition to daycare items. take-out food. Willis, who oversaw some desserts and pastries at MeMe’s, also sold daily baked goods that customers could purchase with coffee orders.

Black Cat Wines Instagram bio says a new bottle store is up “Coming soon,” while Solid Wiggles now seems to be operate of the Pfizer building, and began supplying slices of jelly cakes to the nearby gay-owned bar oddly enough. KIT has yet to publicly announce the closure on Instagram; it is last message was for a pop-up held in early April.

In addition to Black Cat Wines and Solid Wiggles, KIT has also hosted several short-term residencies, ranging from pop-ups like Vietnamese cuisine to Ha’s Đặc Biệtkorean style lunch boxes from Doshiand Eastern Europe bania brunches of Dacha 46. KIT has also served as a space for several chefs who have piloted recipes before launching their own bricks and mortars, such as Agi’s Counter and the coming good place HAGS.

Willis envisioned the incubator-style operation as a fairer model — where landlords split the rent and everyone works in the cafe to sell each other’s food — for a notoriously brutal industry, especially during COVID-19.

Before last year’s opening, Willis told Eater she had hoped KIT would retain some of the same queer hospitality that the original MeMe’s Diner space had become known for. “It’s not a pivot, but it’s a direct response to the fragility of the restaurant industry,” Willis said. “For me, opening another restaurant that was just my own was like a status quo. I wanted to try to create something that felt sustainable for small businesses.”

Willis did not indicate what his next steps would be.

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