Rick Diarmit


February 10, 1959 – June 23, 2018

Genuine, warm-hearted, proud father, loving friend, loyal business partner and caretaker to countless individuals, both personally and professionally. Restaurateur Rick (Ricky) Diarmit chose his words carefully, but whenever he spoke, everyone took note of his wisdom and his no-nonsense attitude. Born and raised on Chicago’s Northwest side, Rick spent the last several decades of his life as a partner in One Off Hospitality Group, particularly overseeing daily operations of the West Loop institutions Blackbird and avec.

Rick loved both restaurants with everything he had, and he spent every day of his incredible career practicing his most dearly held value: “Everyone is welcome.” He was the proud father of three beautiful children, and a compassionate soul to everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him.

Always one to support and look after his loved ones, Rick is survived by his children, Kyle, Ruby, and Donovan (Finn); his Blackbird and avec families, current and former; his business partners and dear friends: Paul Kahan, Eduard Seitan, Terry Alexander, Peter Garfield, Kimberly Galban, and Donnie Madia Gianfrancisco; and his mother, Patricia Snow, who spent more than a decade alongside Rick at Blackbird, working in the pastry kitchen to make thousands upon thousands of truffles for guests to enjoy.

Rick Diarmit, Paul Kahan, Donnie Madia Gianfrancisco, Eduard Seitan.  Credit : Plate Magazine

Rick Diarmit, Paul Kahan, Donnie Madia Gianfrancisco, Eduard Seitan. Credit: Plate Magazine


In lieu of flowers, Rick's children have requested for donations to be made in his honor. All donations can be made to World Relief Chicago, a non-profit organization that provides resettlement, social and legal services to refugees from across the world, including Central and South America, Mexico, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. World Relief is headquartered on the Northwest side of Chicago, blocks from where Rick grew up. He was a Chicago man through and through, and we encourage you to carry on his passion for providing opportunity to anyone seeking a home in the city he loved.

To contribute, visit World Relief Chicago's website and select give in the top right corner.

Left : Rick Diarmit and his daughter, Ruby;  Right : Rick and his three beautiful children at the former One Off Hospitality Group office.

Left: Rick Diarmit and his daughter, Ruby; Right: Rick and his three beautiful children at the former One Off Hospitality Group office.


We invite our community to share their favorite memories
of Rick, our partner and friend, for inclusion on this memorial page. 


Ricky touched so many people in so many ways. Without him, Blackbird will shine a little less, avec will not seem as warm. We will all need to hold onto the memories and each other more now than ever to ensure a man who was taken from us too soon always has a seat at our table.
— Kimberly Galban, Vice President of Operations / Partner - One Off Hospitality
He was the one who always made sure things were running properly and the doors were always open. If there was a problem — even with the air-conditioning — Ricky was the go-to guy.
— Donnie Madia Gianfrancisco, Partner - One Off Hospitality
Ricky was a wonderful part of the One Off Hospitality family. He brought a welcoming spirit to Blackbird that made it clear why the space and concept endures. He had a kind smile and generous nature that made it a joy to collaborate with him.
— Kelsey Gilbert-Kreiling - Presence Agency
He shared his jokes with me. I made mixed-tapes of classic soul for him. Working Friday nights at Avec was the best fun for me because of Rick! Rest Well.
— Clarence Mills
My dear friend from 6th grade at Brentano. I never heard an ugly, unkind, or hateful word from him. It was a honor to have him as my friend.
— Carlos N Escobar

Ricky was truly a great man who overcame great difficulties and always found the time to help others do the same. He was humble and wise - apt to listen rather than talk, there to give, rather than ask. He will be sorely missed by the neighborhood, his partners, his co-workers, his friends, his family - probably anyone that spent more than a moment with him. He will be missed by me.
— Robert Engels

Left : Rick Diarmit, Donnie Madia Gianfrancisco.  Credit : One Off Hospitality Group;  Right : Rick Diarmit, Donnie Madia Gianfrancisco, Paul Kahan.  Credit : Plate Magazine

Left: Rick Diarmit, Donnie Madia Gianfrancisco. Credit: One Off Hospitality Group; Right: Rick Diarmit, Donnie Madia Gianfrancisco, Paul Kahan. Credit: Plate Magazine

I was hired on at Blackbird a couple months after they opened and Ricky and I immediately became buddies. At one point he sold me his 1977 Butter yellow Cadillac Biarritz. Two weeks later, it blew a rod in the engine. Ricky being a standup guy bought it back from me. Who does that? Ricky D did that. I went to his wedding in Jamaica and had one of the best times of my life. I had just driven past Blackbird a couple months back and while waiting for the light to change I saw him in the dining room as usual just looking around checking on diners and we made eye contact - he gave me a big old smile and a wave, I saluted him. Hadn’t seen each other in 15 years and it was like I had just gotten off my shift. What a great dude! You will be missed, bro. I salute you!
— Matt Carlson

Ricky was one of the most kind hearted and passionate professionals I have ever had the pleasure of working for. He truly brought a warmth to Blackbird. As a lunch cook, it was inspiring to see his commitment, always being one of the first in the restaurant each morning, making sure everything was as it should be. He listened and spoke to everyone as equals. He greeted every single person who walked through the door with a genuine smile. Ricky will truly be missed by the many people he has impacted.
— Amy Cohn
As a longtime resident of the West Loop, I have been frequenting Blackbird and avec since they opened. Both places hold wonderful memories for myself, family and friends. Rick was one of the many familiar faces we would see there regularly and he always made sure we got seated at Avec, and always checked on us to make sure we were taken care of. He will be missed.
— Mladen Kralj
In the early years of Blackbird, cabs were often difficult to hail in West Loop on the weekends. After a late night service, Donnie was hailing cabs for restaurant patrons as they exited. There were no cabs to be found. Donnie walked into the restaurant spoke to Rick and he came out and said, “Follow me, I’ll give you a ride home.” Who does this for the customers? Rick Diarmit. Years later I would tease Rick about calling him for a ride home. He would just wink and smile and say, please do! Honor to know someone so dedicated to hospitality and the total customer experience. RIP my friend.
— Jim O'Neill

Rick was a leader and mentor, a wonderful man. His no-nonsense wisdom touched us all. Most of all, he was our friend. In that capacity, we miss him the most. Love you Ricky.
— Justin large

Such a great human being. Always positive and always made me smile. Even after my days at Blackbird and Avec, I would drive by the restaurant on my way to the store and if I ever saw Ricky I’d roll down my window and shout hello to him. Even the briefest interaction with him would bring a smile to my face. Much love and respect. RIP.
— Craig perman
Quintessential - Representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class. That was Ricky. Meeting both him and Donnie prior to Blackbird opening was the start of a wonderful business relationship that turned into more of a family relationship some 21 years later. Ricky was the kind of person that everyone wishes that they had in their life. We all were so fortunate to have known him and to have loved him. Rest in Peace.
— Roseanne Boik
Donnie Madia Gianfrancisco, Rick Diarmit, and Paul Kahan outside Blackbird, after a snowstorm in the winter of 1999.

Donnie Madia Gianfrancisco, Rick Diarmit, and Paul Kahan outside Blackbird, after a snowstorm in the winter of 1999.

Ricky was someone you’ll always remember having in your life. I had the biggest crush on him when I was 14 years old (he was 5 years older). I had a picture of him that I swiped from my older sister and would tell people he was my boyfriend. He was 19, had long hair and was gorgeous. Like a blonde Eddie Van Halen. He was a beautiful person and left us much too early.
— Katherine Bassett
Ricky was such a crafty DIY guy. He had all the tools and all know how. I mean, he literally built the bar at Blackbird. I’m worthless with tools and fixing things, but Ricky showed me a lot about how to fix small problems and tinker around behind a bar. Whenever I had a problem the first thing I would do is talk to Ricky. Then Ricky would smirk or make a smart ass comment at me for my foolishness. Usually then he’d ask, “so what are you gonna do?” “I don’t know Ricky! That’s why I’m talking to you!” Then he would send me on an errand to grab his tools and we’d fix it together. He was so hands on, helpful, humorous, and supportive.
— Derek mercer