In early October, news got out that R.J. and Jerrod Melman signed a lease at the shuttered River North bar Frankie Z's. Now Eater learns that the brothers, who are also opening RPM Italian in about a month, will convert the space into a still-unnamed country/western bar that will serve great barbecue. They are shooting to open in the summer of 2012.
If you remember, last July award-winning barbecue pit master Myron Mixon served up a lunchtime feast at the Lettuce Entertain You offices so this news is now all coming together.
Plans have just begun to remake the approximately 5,000 square-foot space and the team will begin construction in the spring. For now, they haven't named a chef, but did say everything is being handled internally at LEYE.
As for why a country-themed bar, they said former Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen initially turned them on to country music a couple of years ago. Now they want a laid-back place they can kick it, but without any line dancing. "It'll be more of a hangout," R.J. Melman said.
· Melmans Nab Frankie Z's [~EChi~]
· Rancics, Melmans Name New Restaurant RPM Italian; Scheduled to Open Late January
· Is Lettuce Entertain You Getting Back into the BBQ Biz? [~EChi~]
R.J. and Jerrod Melman [Photo: Chicagoist]