Loved ones tell NBC 5 a well-known Chicago chef is missing and was last seen at a West Loop restaurant Thursday.
By nightfall Monday still no one had heard from 25-year-old Luis Mercader. His roommate says Mercader is always responsible and left his backpack at Roister, the hip, upscale restaurant where he works.
"He's never done this before, that's why we're so worried," Pedro Prada said. Prada said he did speak to Mercader on the phone briefly Thursday afternoon.
"He sounded a little distracted," he said.
Prada said Mercader, who is originally from Puerto Rico, was scheduled to host a relief benefit Thursday night at Bucktown's Animale restaurant but never showed up.
"We talked a couple times," recalled Brian McGrath, the executive sous chef at Animale, adding that Mercarder had told him he was on his way. "Then he stopped answering the phone."
"I'm really concerned for his mental health," McGrath said. "That’s where I’m at right now."
Mercarder's father, also Luis, said he was proud of his son's efforts to put together a fundraiser.
"He was very excited about it," he said.
Luis’s father and uncle flew to Chicago over the weekend.
"That’s not him, that's not him," the elder Luis said. "He’s a happy guy."
Family and friends have posted signs around town near Halsted and Madison, where Luis's car was found parked in a bus stop and towed Friday morning.
"We are trying to maintain our positive thinking," uncle Juan Carlos Mercader said.
Coworkers tell NBC 5 Luis didn't show up for work on Saturday and has never missed work before.
"It's really is sad and stressful and Luis is like a big brother to me," said Sarah Brown, a coworker. "I met him my first day at Roister."
She said he is kind and caring.
Luis' father says he just wants to see his son and then he’ll take his son home to Puerto Rico.