Daniel Ernce, head chef at Progress, a well known fine dining spot in Farmers Park. Ernce is a rising star, but also an overworked and exhausted one. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Progress, a restaurant at Farmers Park, will close June 30.

Partners Daniel Ernce, head chef, and Cassidy Rollins, general manager, made the announcement on social media Tuesday. The third partner is Tim O’Reilly, chief executive officer of O’Reilly Hospitality Management.

The restaurant opened five years ago. It is at 2144 E. Republic Road, B-101, Springfield.

Why close now?

“There are a lot of different factors that go into a decision like this,” Ernce said Tuesday. “It’s not one specific thing. And of course, we didn’t come to this decision quickly, easily or necessarily happily.

“But the impetus for our closure was last year when we started talking about how our lease was coming up.

“All good things come to an end — and it is what it is.”

Ernce was profiled in the Springfield Daily Citizen in October. The story talked about his battle with a form of testicular cancer.

Ernce said Tuesday he is cancer free and healthy.

“That is really not an issue that we are dealing with right now,” he said.

Progress started as a pop-up restaurant, meaning Ernce went to places including Urban Roots Farm, 823 W. State St., and Mother’s Brewing Company, 215 S. Grant Ave., and created the menu and made the meals.

In fact, it was the city’s first pop-up restaurant, according to a June 21, 2017 story in the Springfield News-Leader.

Ernce, 30, earned the nickname “Shuck Norris” years ago while working as an intern at Restaurant 108, once considered one of the world’s best-known restaurants. It’s in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Shuck” derived from his ability to shuck shellfish under intense culinary pressure.

List of guest chefs includes his former boss

Chef Daniel Ernce rolls a cart from the kitchen to the walk-in color at Progress. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Progress has featured guest chefs. One of them was Trevor Tack, a head chef in Tulsa.

“He was the first chef I ever worked for,” Ernce said. “So it was nice to kind of come full circle and be able to do that together with the first person that let me in the kitchen.

“We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve done and built here. It was an amazing opportunity to cook and serve our community. Getting to work with the farmers and purveyors and especially the team that we had, and the culture we were able to build over the years has been really rewarding, fulfilling.

“Yes, it is also the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

“Yes, I worked incredible hours often. And yeah, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

The menu will change often between now and June 30, Ernce said, with many of the restaurants prior favorites re-appearing.

Ernce did not want to discuss his future plans, other than to say they might involve another restaurant.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin