The Region institution Gayety's survived the Great Depression, the Great Recession, a world war, bankruptcy, a faltering franchise, population shifts further south and a societal shift toward healthier eating.
But nearly 100 years after opening in Chicago, the popular chocolate shop and ice cream parlor has served its last scoop and sold its last box of Valentine's Day chocolates for a beloved sweetheart. The 98-year-old business is closing both its Schererville and flagship Lansing locations just four years after surviving bankruptcy.
"You may have noticed we have had our doors closed in recent weeks," Gayety's said in a Facebook post. "We were trying to find a solution to keep the doors of Gayety’s Chocolates & Ice Cream open. Unfortunately, after 98 great years, we have officially closed. We want to give a big thank you to all our customers for a wonderful 98 years! It has been an absolute pleasure serving this community!"
The owners did not return messages.
Gayety's had hung up "closed for remodeling" signs outside its stores, but no apparent remodeling was visible through the windows.
Founded on the South Side by the newly arrived immigrant James Papageorge in 1920, Gayety's was known for its homemade ice cream and hand-dipped gourmet chocolate, which was sold in downtown Chicago hotels like the Four Seasons and the Ritz Carlton and online internationally to customers in places like Costa Rica and Mexico. USA Today named it one of the top 50 ice cream parlors in the country and the best in Illinois.
Generations of Region residents bought chocolate there for Valentine's Day or holiday gifts, though some complained about high prices.
Gayety's moved to downtown Lansing in 2003, where it was a popular hangout spot for teens and families.
It expanded to Schererville in 2011, and that outpost on Indianapolis Boulevard and Main Street closed and reopened in 2014 when the franchisee pulled out. The third-generation family-owned business filed for bankruptcy months later, reporting between $1 million and $10 million in debt, and just $139,000 in assets at the time.