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Leghorn, Ukrainian Village’s LGBTQ-Friendly Fried Chicken Slinger, Is Closed

Element Collective’s Chris Freeman and Chris Dexter stand outside Leghorn Chicken in 2015.

Element Collective has only Nellcote and RM Champagne Salon left

Leghorn Chicken, the fast-casual restaurant in Ukrainian Village that many described as an LGBTQ-friendly alternative to Chick-fil-A’s controversial philosophies, is closed. The state department of revenue revoked the restaurant’s license which leaves the future of Leghorn’s parent company, Element Collective, in question. The once promising restaurant group is now left with only Nellcote and RM Champagne Salon in West Loop. Furthermore, workers are once again accusing Element of not paying its workers on time.

The original Leghorn, 959 N. Western Avenue, which opened in 2014 — before the trend of Nashville hot chicken swept the country — was known for “socially conscious” crispy fried chicken, biscuits, Leghorn-branded condoms available at the counter, and loud rap music. Workers would point out customers could visit Leghorn on Sundays to get their chicken fix. Chick-fil-A locations around the country don’t open on Sundays.

At one point, Leghorn had three locations. A River North location at the Ohio House Motel closed last year. A location on the United Center’s main level was replaced before the start of basketball and hockey seasons in 2018 and replaced by Honey Butter Fried Chicken.

Workers at Leghorn are alleging that they haven’t been paid, according to a Block Club Chicago report. Accusations of bounced checks at Element Collective restaurants aren’t new as workers from Kinmont, a River North seafood restaurant that closed in 2017, also made similar claims. There was controversy involved in 2017 regarding the Logan Square closures of Mezcaleria Las Flores and Johnny’s Grill. Those two venues were part of Element, which was not widely reported. Despite acclaim (MLF was Eater’s bar of the year in 2016), workers, including MLF’s head bartender, said Element broke promises made to them. Another Element restaurant, Old Town Social, closed last year without any public controversy.

Check back for updates if Element Collective responds to attempts for comment.

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