Around Town: Bendición Dry Bar, a non-alcoholic cocktail lounge that has been popping up around town, has successfully completed a $15,000 GoFundMe to pay for startup costs on a brick and mortar space sometime this summer. Founder Cristina Torres writes that the GoFundMe will pay for a rent deposit, a buildout, and crisis training for staff, though she hasn’t settled on an exact location. In the meantime, Bendición will be popping up at Paper Plane Pizza at 1625 N. Halsted Street in Lincoln Park this summer.
Avondale: Loaf Lounge, an all-day “bread-centric” cafe from spouses Sarah Mispagel and Ben Lustbader will be opening on the ground floor of 2934 N. Milwaukee Avenue sometime this summer, Block Club reports. Mispagel and Lustbader are alums of, among other places, Nightwood, Lula Cafe, and Chef’s Special Cocktail Lounge, and have been operating pop-ups around town for the past year. The cafe will serve sandwiches, pastry, Four Letter Word coffee, and cocktails.
Bucktown: Quesadilla La Reina del Sur, a Mexican vegetarian restaurant, will be moving to a new space next door to its current location at 2235 N. Western Avenue, management announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Chinatown: Kuro Ramen has applied for a liquor license at 2300 S. Archer Avenue, the space formerly occupied by Sushi + Rotary Bar.
Gold Coast: The Nicaraguan chicken chain Pollo Campero will be opening a new location at 20 E. Chicago Avenue in the former Red Robin, a poster at LTH Forum reports. There are 400 Pollo Campero restaurants in Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, and the United States, including one in Albany Park and a ghost kitchen in River North.
Hyde Park: Erick Williams, recently named Chicago’s chef of the year at the Jean Banchet Awards for his work at Virtue, plans to open a new po’ boy restaurant later this year at 5215 S. Harper Avenue, the former home of the Jolly Pumpkin brewpub, the Tribune reports. Although Williams told the Tribune he hasn’t settled on a name yet, it’s listed on the city liquor license application as Daisy’s Po’Boy and Tavern.
Lincoln Park: Maison Parisienne, a French pastry shop and cafe, will be opening a third location at 901 W. Armitage Avenue later this summer. There are already cafes in Lakeview and on Clark Street near Park West in Lincoln Park.
Lincoln Park: Willie Lill’s, described by its owners Last Call Tavern Group as a Southern country rock bar, will be opening later this spring at 433 W. Diversey Parkway in the former home of Compass Bar, reports a poster on LTH Forum. According to the bar’s website, the original William Lill was an ambitious 19th century gentleman who walked from Louisville to Chicago to open a distillery and brewery with Michael Diversey. (Lill Avenue is a few blocks to the south.)
Loop: The chicken wars have come to Michigan Avenue. Chicken finger specialist Raising Cane’s plans to open a new flagship restaurant at the corner of Michigan and Madison later this year, Crain’s reports. It replaces a 4,000 square-foot Panera Bread and will be less than two blocks away from Chick-fil-A and Jollibee. Raising Cane’s already has 20 locations in the Chicago area. A spokesman told Crain’s that he feels confident that Michigan Avenue tourists can support that much chicken.
O’Hare: A number of local restaurants will be opening outposts at O’Hare Airport later this year or in early 2023, WhatNow Chicago reports, including Hampton Social, Butcher and the Burger, Bar Siena, and Sparrow Coffee.
Portage Park: Bluebird, a casual neighborhood spot in Lakeview, recently applied for a liquor license for a second location at 3938 N. Central Avenue. The restaurant specializes in burgers and sandwiches and also serves duck fat fries.
Ravenswood: A third outpost of Land & Lake Kitchen will replace the Fountainhead at 1970 W. Montrose Avenue, Block Club reports. The menu will be similar to that at the Andersonville location, but there will be a greater emphasis on craft beers, especially from the restaurant’s new neighbors, including Begyle, Dovetail, and Forbidden Root.
West Loop: From Here On, a new food hall from the 16” On Center hospitality group will be opening on the ground floor of the Old Post Office at 433 W. Van Buren Street in June, the Tribune reports. There will be a dozen vendors, including second locations of Familiar Bakery and Tempesta Market and a collaboration between Vietnamese food truck Lunchbox and noodle shop Phodega called Phobox. This will be the third food hall from 16” On Center, after the Revival Food Hall in the Loop and a new project opening in New York later this month.
Oak Brook: Violí, a second Greek restaurant from DineAmic Hospitality (following Lyra in the West Loop), will open in Oakbrook Center this fall, Crain’s reports, replacing Lettuce Entertain You’s Mon Ami Gabi, which closed last November. Violí will be more casual than Lyra, but it will have the same chef, Athinagoras Kostakos, and the decor will also evoke the spirit of the Greek islands.
Skokie: South Side favorite Rainbow Cone will open its first North Side location next Wednesday, May 11, at 3754 W. Touhy Avenue. It will share space with Buona Beef; the two restaurants merged in 2019 and opened their first combined spot in west suburban Darien last year. This will be the first time Rainbow Cone has ventured north of Navy Pier in its 96-year history.
Around Town: Potbelly’s new CEO, Bob Wright, announced an ambitious 10-year plan last week to transfer 100 of its locations to franchisees and expand to 2000 restaurants, 85 percent of which will be franchised, Crain’s reports. This model, similar to that of McDonald’s, would quintuple the size of the chain. It’s the latest move for the chain that continues to search for a direction while sales struggle.
Albany Park: Bosnian restaurant Oazas will reopen soon at 3057 W. Lawrence Avenue with new ownership and a new name, Sonny’s Place, according to a listing on Google. The new owners recently applied for a city liquor license.
Chatham: LA-based chain Fatburger will be returning to the Chicago area with a new location at 825 E. 87th Street, scheduled to open by the end of 2022, WhatNow Chicago reports. A previous brick-and-mortar in Beverly owned by Kanye West (who had promised to open 10 locations) and a ghost kitchen version in River North both closed. The new Chatham Fatburger will also double as a Buffalo’s Express, selling wings with a choice of 13 different sauces.
Chicago Lawn: La Barca, a Mexican restaurant, will be opening at 3019 W. 59th Street according to a city inspection report. It will be replacing La Sirena.
Edgewater: Afghan Saray, a new restaurant that, according to a sign in its window, will serve Mediterranean cuisine, will be opening at 6141 N. Broadway later this spring. The storefront was previously the home of Milo’s Pita, which decamped to a larger space in West Ridge in January.
Edgewater: Dream Nutrition Cafe will be opening soon at 6206 N. Broadway near Loyola University, replacing the Pack, a cafe that sold smoothies and energy drinks.
Edgewater: Sfera Sicilian Street Food, which began selling homemade arancini at farmers’ markets before the pandemic, then pivoted to home delivery and a setup in a ghost kitchen in Avondale, is finally moving into a permanent home later this spring at 5759 N. Broadway, the Reader reports. Daniela Vitale and Steven Jarczyk will continue to sell arancini, plus sfincione (a precursor to pizza), muffuletta, and other sandwiches.
Gold Coast: The Waldorf Astoria Chicago at 11 E. Walton Street will unveil extensive renovations this spring, according to a rep. These include a new French brasserie, Brass Tack, and lobby bar, Peacock Alley, plus the return of Bernard’s, a cocktail bar specializing in artisanal wines and spirits and inspired by the men in the life of fashion designer Coco Chanel.
Grant Park: A pizza stand called Pie Life will open on the north side of Buckingham Fountain next month according to its website. Owned by Eats & Libations, the company that runs Buck’s Four Star Grill on the opposite side of the fountain, it will serve pizza, sandwiches, coffee, and gelato.
River North: Planta Queen, a plant-based restaurant from Florida, will be opening at 413 N. Clark Street, formerly LYFE Kitchen, according to a poster on LTH Forum and its website. The menu will feature sushi, salads, pizzas, snacks, and burgers. The restaurant, not be confused with the booth in the Cafeteria food court at 840 N. Orleans, already has locations in South Florida, New York City, Toronto, and the DC area.
Rogers Park: A new entertainment venue specializing in magic called the Rhapsody Theatre will be opening in June in the space at 1328 W. Morse formerly known as the Mayne Stage and before that, the Morse Theater, the Tribune reports. Ricardo Rosenkranz, a professor at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine with an interest in stage magic, purchased the theater from billionaire philanthropist Jennifer Pritzker, who had bought it in 2010 and did extensive renovations. Rosenkranz will install a restaurant in the downstairs space that formerly housed a brewpub and at least one bar.
South Loop: A new restaurant, Entree Global, has applied for a liquor license for 1639 S. Wabash Avenue, the space that was formerly home to Acadia, chef Ryan McCaskey’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant that closed in the summer of 2020 after allegations of harassment and a toxic work environment were made public.
West Garfield Park: Kiss the Cook BBQ, which already has a location in the Loop, will be opening at 4001 W. Jackson in a space formerly occupied by Jerk Taco Man according to a city inspection report. The restaurant specializes in rib slabs and tips and brisket but also serves catfish.
West Loop: Hide and Seek, a new establishment whose management team includes Nick Paul Karounos, co-owner of Prysm nightclub and Concord Music Hall, has filed for a liquor license at 838 W. Randolph Street, on Restaurant Row. The three-floor space was most recently occupied by the pop-up Nosh & Booze, but before that, it housed Vivo for 25 years.
Wicker Park: Owners of a new bar, 1637 West Bar and Lounge, have filed for a liquor license for the space at 1637 W. North Avenue. The space was previously occupied by @North, which closed abruptly at the end of March.
Around the Suburbs: Rebel’s Hot Chicken, a virtual Nashville hot chicken spot, will open three new suburban locations on Wednesday, April 27, according to a rep, operating out of the kitchens of City Works Eatery & Pour House in Vernon Hills and the Old Town Pour House in Naperville, and Oak Brook.
Skokie: The Westfield Old Orchard shopping mall, one of the oldest in the Chicago area, has announced several new tenants who will open in the coming year, NBC5 reports, including the first suburban location of Bar Siena, the West Loop Italian spot known for its desserts; another location of the steakhouse chain Capital Grille (the fifth in Illinois); and a sixth outpost of Molly’s Cupcakes.
Andersonville: Ice cream and chocolate shop Kilwins aims to open a new location in late summer or early fall at 5224 N. Clark Street, the former home of record shop and retailer Transistor, according to Block Club Chicago. Franchise owner Jackie Jackson, who also owns outposts in Hyde Park, Navy Pier, and on Michigan Avenue, tells reporters that she chose the neighborhood after hearing news that George’s Ice Cream & Sweets, a fixture for on Andersonville’s main drag, was closing after 13 years. The shutter has primed residents for a new sweets spot and Jackson is offering jobs to former George’s staff.
Edgewater: Deep Purpl, a specialist in acai bowls and smoothies, will be opening its seventh location inside a new multiuse building 1137 W. Sheridan Road, across the street from Loyola University, pending a successful health inspection. The rapidly-expanding mini-chain is also opening a new space near Millennium Park, a collaboration with Fons, which bills itself as the world’s only vegan empanada shop.
Little Italy: Los Angeles-based Mochinut, a cafe chain that specializes in chewy mochi doughnuts and Korean-style hot dogs on sticks, will soon open near the University of Illinois Chicago campus at 1139 W. Taylor Street, operators announced on Instagram. The company is currently undergoing a massive expansion, with additional Chicago-area locations slated to debut this spring in suburban Arlington Heights and Wheeling.
Lincoln Park: A new restaurant, Kyoku Sushi, has applied for a liquor license for 2518 N. Lincoln Avenue, the former home of Bobby’s Lincoln Park, which closed in early 2020.
Logan Square: All-day cafe and soda fountain Same Day Cafe has applied for a liquor license from the city so that it can add alcoholic beverages to its already extensive menu of house-made shakes and sodas.
Marycrest: Blue Crab Seafood Market passed its city inspection and will be opening at 8618 S. Kedzie Avenue, replacing the fast food seafood spot Red Snapper.
Noble Square: Engine Coffee, a new cafe, will be opening on the first floor of 1109 N. Ashland Avenue. The space is currently under construction, but according to the cafe’s Instagram account, it will serve Big Shoulders Coffee.
North Lawndale: The Soul Food Lounge has passed its city inspection and will be opening soon at 3804 W. 16th Street, the former location of the Egg Roll Factory.
Old Town: Bakery chain Crumbl Cookies has passed its city inspection on a new location inside a luxury apartment building at 1435 N. Wells Street. The Utah-based company, which operates more than 200 stores across the U.S., opened its first Chicago location in June 2021 in Wicker Park following an outpost in suburban Schaumburg.
River North: Obelix, the hotly anticipated French restaurant from brothers Oliver and Nicholas Poilevey (Le Bouchon), is hiring front- and back-of-house staff, according to an Instagram post, in an apparent indication of its imminent debut. Designed to explore French cuisine through a Chicago lens, Obilex has taken over 700 N. Sedgwick Street, the former home of now-shuttered Michelin-starred restaurant Entente.
River North/Gold Coast: Amazon-owned grocery giant Whole Foods on Wednesday announced plans, via a rep, to open a nearly 66,000-square-foot store with a bar and extensive alcohol selection in April inside the new One Chicago high-rise at 3 W. Chicago Avenue. The massive new store will launch Wednesday, April 27, with produce, meats, prepared foods, and much more, alongside an assortment of more than 300 craft beers and 600 wines, plus two sommeliers to help educate patrons. The bar will serve wine, beer, liquor, and light food. An older Whole Foods outpost nearby on Huron Street will close to make way for the fresh entry.
South Chicago: Crab Island Seafood has passed its city health inspection and will be opening at 9119 S. Commercial Avenue, replacing A-Own Wings.
Uptown: The Peter Rubi groceries at 804 W. Montrose and in Plainfield were sold to the Canadian vegan food startup PlantX in December and will be rebranded as XMarket, Block Club reports. Both stores will sell vegan grocery items as well as sandwiches from chef Matthew Kenney.
West Town: Oggi Trattoria, an Italian restaurant that already has a location at 1118 W. Grand Avenue, has applied for a liquor license for 1461 W. Chicago Avenue, the former location of the Artisan Bread Company.
Edgewater: The wife-and-wife team behind one of Andersonville’s most popular annual Pride parties are planning to open a new bar, Whiskey Girl Tavern, in the former home of Pressure Billiards at 6318 N. Clark Street, according to Block Club Chicago. Heather and Christina Roberts, the co-founder of Back Lot Bash, plan to open as a sports bar and lounge with food, cocktails, and a booze-free drink menu. The pair have to wait for approval on a proposed zoning change before they can start serving.
Little Village: Mexican restaurant Taqueria Coral is at work on a third location and has passed a city inspection at 4126 W. 26th Street. Originally founded in 2017 in southwest suburban Bolingbrook, the restaurant also has a Little Village location on Central Avenue.
The Loop: Parisian gelato chain Amorino is coming back to Chicago after franchises closed in Gold Coast and River North, according to a sign in a space near Grant Park at Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street. The chain operates more than 200 locations across the U.S., Mexico, Europe, and Asia.
The Loop: The city has issued a building permit for Kindling, the new live-fire restaurant planned for inside Willis Tower from the owners of Roots Pizza, Utopian Tailgate, and Berkshire Room. The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group’s Scott Weiner says they’re hoping for a September opening at 233 S. Wacker Drive.
North Center: Hop Butcher For The World, which purchased Half Acre Beer’s original brewery and taproom at 4253-4259 N. Lincoln Avenue in December, has applied for a liquor license, putting it on track to open this spring, as planned. For the first time in its eight years in business, Hop Butcher will finally have its own taproom to show off its creatively flavored stouts and IPAs.
Portage Park: Cafe and wholesale bakery Fematt & Fraustos Baking seems poised to take over the former Six Corners Bakery space at 4022 N. Milwaukee Avenue, pending a successful inspection.
River North: Yardbird, which already has locations in five U.S. cities plus Singapore, will open a Chicago location later this year, the chain announced on its Instagram account. A building permit was issued for 530 N. Wabash, in the former P.F. Chang’s in the Hilton Garden Inn. As the name implies, it specializes in chicken, and the rest of the menu has a Southern inflection.
Rogers Park: Petite Le Piano, an offshoot of jazz club and restaurant Le Piano will take over the space next door, at 6966 N. Glenwood Avenue, that previously housed Far East Kitchen, according to a sign in the window. The sign also promises “healthy street food” and a spring debut. News of the impending opening has evoked strong reactions in a Rogers Park neighborhood Facebook group because of comments Le Piano owner Chad Willetts made in November 2020 on social media regarding the city’s ban on indoor dining. In a since-deleted post, Willetts likened a customer’s right to dine indoors to “a woman’s essential right to choose” to have an abortion, drawing a slew of critical comments.
Uptown: L/A Mex, a new vegan taqueria from Mexican American restaurateur Gina Marino-Kalish is coming this spring with a staggered rollout at 1303 W. Wilson Avenue right beside sister restaurants Sam & Gertie’s and Kal’ish. The team will start offering patio seating exclusively on Fridays starting March 25 before expanding into full service on May 4, according to Marino-Kalish’s spouse Andy Kalish.
West Loop: Electric Garden, which describes itself on its social media feeds as “an interactive-fun beer garden,” is coming soon to 324 S. Racine, the former site of the Wise Owl Drinkery & Cookshop. The owner is Chris Johnston of Whiskey Business and Cheesie’s Pub and Grub.
West Town: Uncle Ben’s Grill will replace Tommy’s Grill at 456 N. Damen pending a successful inspection by the city.
Woodlawn: The as-yet-unnamed restaurant inside the Study at U of C — the University of Chicago’s forthcoming 167-room hotel at 1227 E. 60th Street — has passed its city inspection, records show. The massive project was first approved in early 2020 with an estimated price tag of $55 million and is the latest endeavor from Study Hotels, a developer that operates similar hotels in New Haven, Connecticut, and University City in Philadelphia.
For a list of coming attractions from winter 2022, click here.