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Jacky's on Prairie to Close After NYE; Hota Taking Over

Last year it was Spring. This year Jacky's on Prairie will shutter after its New Year's Eve service, but instead of closing altogether, the new owners, Jona Silva and his wife, Erin Silva Winston, will close down for about a week and reopen on Jan. 6 with their new concept: Hota.

Hota, which is the pronunciation of the letter J in Spanish, pays homage to Silva's Mexican heritage and to its predecessor Jacky's. But as far as it having any real connection to its past, save a few classic dishes like Dover sole and a dry-aged steak, Hota will reflect the Silva's passion for global cuisine and a desire to make the restaurant more approachable for the neighborhood.

Jona Silva started working at Jacky's in 2009 when owner David Lipschutz opened the restaurant following the closure of chef Jacky Pluton's Jacky's Bistro in the same location. Then this fall, the couple bought the restaurant from Lipschutz and started transitioning the concept from French bistro to more of an American restaurant with global influences.

"It's a balancing act between making it an upscale contemporary American restaurant, but honoring authentic ethnic flavors," said Erin Silva. The pair travels annually to a different country to explore new cuisine and tries to eat out at Chicago's diverse ethnic restaurants each Monday when their restaurant is closed.

From these experiences, Jona Silva said the new menu will now feature things like pork belly with Asian black bean paste; foie gras terrine; chilpachole (a Mexican seafood stew); Moroccan lamb; butter-poached lobster over black risotto; and "duck confit flautas with a nice guajillo sauce that my mom used to make," he said. "The menu will continue evolving as our education evolves. We'll keep learning all those techniques from those countries and our travels." And Erin will incorporate her current education at the French Pastry School into the restaurant's dessert program.

The 82-seat restaurant has already started getting an aesthetic makeover to transition from looking like a traditional French bistro into a more modern American restaurant. The white tablecloths and French art will go away to be replaced with wooden butcher block tables, more modern prints and a color scheme including white, green and dark woods.

Hota will be open every night for dinner (save Monday) and for lunch Tuesday through Friday. On Sundays, the restaurant will offer brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. then close for a couple hours to reopen for dinner at 4:30 when the Silvas will offer both the regular menu and a $19 per person (or the cost of a kid's age under 11) family-style dinner featuring appetizers, side dishes, dessert and entrees including "the perfect fried chicken," Jona said.

But before Jacky's on Prairie closes at the end of the month, the Silvas will celebrate both Christmas and New Year's with special meals and also honor the French tradition of the King's Cake. They will be baking special cakes that will hide little figurines; guests who find the figurines will get to pick a gift certificate for Hota out of a bag. Not a bad way to transition from old to new.
· Spring Restaurant to Close Doors for Good After NYE [~EChi~]

Hota/Jacky's on Prairie

2545 Prairie Avenue, Evanston, IL