The Ideal Place closes due to exhaust problems, chef’s health

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON HARBOR — A popular bistro in the Benton Harbor Arts District will close its doors for the last time Saturday.

Owner Chris Kasperzak said The Ideal Place will close indefinitely in light of several major equipment problems that have forced brief shutdowns.

Another reason for the shutdown is to spend time with family as the bistro’s head chef is undergoing another round of chemotherapy after her cancer returned.

“Barb (Clark) has been in remission for cancer for about four years or so, and for the last four years we have been trying to be active business owners,” Kasperzak said. “Her cancer has come back, and to be honest, we have done a lot of things at the Ideal Place and can see new businesses are coming in and doing so many things. We have been trying to take it one day at a time.”

On Friday night, Kasperak proposed marriage to Clark, and she accepted.

Kasperzak bought the 212 Territorial Road building in 1998, when she and her Clark decided it was time to get involved in the restaurant industry.

Being from Chicago, Kasperzak said they immediately fell in love with Benton Harbor.

“We are very emotional about this,” she said. “It’s been a long time since we first came to Benton Harbor. We wanted to come here and bring the community closer together. We hoped to play a role in the Benton Harbor Arts District. We knew these art galleries needed a place to come in and have a sip of wine.”

Upon its first year in business, Kasperzak and company gutted the second and third floors, renovating the bar that was previously there. Kasperzak said the first floor was already done and the restaurant came with a liquor license.

The building dates to the 1920s and became Walt’s Ideal Bar in the 1940s. Kasperzak said she has had customers bring in pictures of Al Capone playing pool there. It was Rich’s Ideal Bar before Kasperzak took it over in 1998.

She said they did not want it to be just a bar, so they called it The Ideal Place.

Anyone wanting to stop in and say goodbye can visit The Ideal Place from 5-9 p.m. today.

“We love all of our customers so much and everybody who worked for the Ideal Place,” Kasperzak said. “Barb is doing well and we are going to get through this. Given our age, it is a decision to spend more time with our family, with our grandkids.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Oct. 24, 2015)


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