Late Nite comes to a close

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Late Nite, the popular partial service restaurant in Baldwin City known for its community involvement and delicious breakfast foods late at night, has decided to close its doors. This notice brought an air of surprise and sadness to the community as Late Nite had filled a missing element of the already existing community on Baker’s campus.

Co-owners Dylan Kort and Will Duncan started the restaurant back in February 2020 with big aspirations in making it a success. When the pandemic hit unexpectedly within a short period after opening, Kort and Duncan were faced with tough challenges.

“We missed out on about 11 weeks of sales last year which was difficult,” Kort said. Despite the given situation, Late Nite proved to be a successful business with promising hopes for staying open in the future. However, the decision to end operations was made due to a variety of reasons.

A large challenge that the duo faced when considering whether or not to stay open was the fixed cost of insurance, which is bought at a yearly rate.

“We would have had to buy the insurance to cover us from February again through the next February. When we realized how much that cost was going to be, and we didn’t know for sure what the future held, we had to make a decision,” Kort said.

The pair were unsure of whether Kort or Duncan would be in Baldwin City in the fall and would need to find someone to fill their spot if not. The uncertainty of such decisions and the realization that there were a lot of components to consider also contributed to the decision to close.

Duncan reflected on the opening back in February 2020 stating, “It was the worst possible timing. We looked at all of the federal funding that became available in April as part of the CARES Act, but our business was too new. A 2019 tax return was needed, so we didn’t qualify for that and everyone was away so we had about four months where we couldn’t operate.”

While having applied for the second round of relief funding, the process of getting approved is timely which Kort contributes to impacting Late Nite in the way that it has.

During their time in operation, Late Nite benefited the Baldwin City community in many ways. From partnering with sororities on campus to raise money for their philanthropies to organizations such as Student Senate sponsoring an ice cream night, Late Night brought crowds of students to this beloved spot when students needed it the most.

Baker University Junior Chris Davies was a frequent customer of Late Nite who enjoyed the convenience of having somewhere to go late at night for a snack. Davies contributes the atmosphere and convenient food without a long drive to what will be missed the most.

“It was just a nice place that was our own. What Dylan and Will made was a haven for us students to eat and study at night. It was a beautiful thing that’ll never be forgotten,” Davies said.

With the fight of the pandemic, Late Nite was unable to function in the way that Kort and Duncan had hoped, especially with capacity limits.

“The pandemic meant that we had so many constrained options. We couldn’t do a lot of the things that I think would have made Late Nite a sustainable enterprise,” Duncan said. “If we would have been able to do more events, I think the picture would have looked much better.”

Late Nite was not just about providing food late at night, but it was also about providing an exceptional experience for their customers.

“Everybody who worked at Late Nite was bought into that concept and that was the concept I miss the most. I will miss the fact that there is not going to be that place anymore,” Kort said.

Although Late Nite may be gone for now, Kort remains optimistic in saying, “It’s important to recognize that there’s no guarantee that it’s over. Just because Late Nite as it was is closed does not mean that some iteration of Late Nite won’t come back in the future.”

While the restaurant was short-lived, the mark Late Nite has left on the Baldwin City community will remain. Small college campuses prosper in places like Late Nite and students, like Davies, will be on the lookout for a new place in Baldwin City to grab a breakfast biscuit with bacon late at night.