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Restaurant Row Mainstays Nellcote and RM Champagne Close After Seven Years

RM Champagne Salon

Element Collective has closed its final two venues

As telegraphed last week after the closing of Leghorn Chicken, Element Collective has closed its two West Loop restaurants, Nellcote and RM Champagne Salon. Those were Element’s final two restaurants. The company made the announcement on Tuesday via Instagram.

The abrupt closures cap a seven-year run for the two restaurants on the southwest corner of Randolph and Green streets. The venues’s final services were last week. There was no sign of a closure on Tuesday. The bar was still stocked and a barely-inflated mylar balloon was tied to a handrail. Staff at Bandit, an upcoming restaurant and bar that would have shared a courtyard with RM Champagne, had no idea about the closure.

The space was popular for weddings and engagement parties. Some who booked events later this month have told Eater that Element Collective hasn’t contacted them since announcing the shutter. They’re now scrambling looking for new venues.

In recent years, many Element Collective employees have said the company failed to pay their workers on time or in some cases at all. A group of them are considering filing a lawsuit against the company. There have been complaints at Nellcote, Kinmont in River North, and at Mezcaleria Las Flores in Logan Square. Workers told Eater that 20 to 30 employees are owed money in amounts that vary from $500 to thousands of dollars.

Chef Jared Van Camp was a large part of Element Collective. Van Camp said he left the company about two weeks ago: “It was time to move on,” he said. “I probably should have done this a while ago.”

Van Camp had little to say about the workers’s grievances: “Again, I’m not a part of it at all,” he said. “I wish them all the best. I had great relationships with people I worked with through the years.”

He said he heard from several former coworkers on Tuesday as his phone began buzzing after Element announced the closure. He blamed Element’s demise on being too ambitious. Instead of opening several restaurants, the company should have focused on developing singular strengths. The company didn’t fail overnight, but it still was a surprise to hear about the company’s final restaurants closing, Van Camp said.

Van Camp added that he’s already working with another company on a new project. He wouldn’t reveal much, but an announcement could come soon.

Element Collective was founded in 2007 by Chris Freeman and Chris Dexter. Van Camp said he continues to talk with Dexter, but hasn’t spoken with Freeman in a “long time.” Freeman left the company in January.

Read the Instagram post below:

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