Last weekend at Lollapalooza, Veerasway owners Chris and Angela Lee set up shop as Juhu Beach. Little did anyone know that the tent setup would be the modern Indian restaurant's new form as the Lees shuttered the Michelin Bib Gourmand-stamped Veerasway on Sunday and now will begin transforming it into Grange Hall Farm Burger.
Despite getting recognized by Michelin, Veerasway just wasn't pulling in the business. "Not enough people gave Indian a chance," said Chris Lee. "In other words, everyone who had the food thinks it's great, but not enough people were willing to try the food."
The new approximately 55-seat free-range burger joint will open sometime this fall to, as the Lees feel, fill a quality burger void in the West Loop. They were inspired to open Grange Hall after seeing the popularity of DMK Burger Bar. "There are many restaurants with good burgers, but the point is that there are no dedicated burger places in the West Loop," he said. "We want to do it to Angela's style." Lee does recognize that Epic Burger recently opened not too far from their location, but considers that more in the Loop.
The restaurant will grind all the hormone-, drug- and antibiotic-free beef in house. They will source all the products—meats, vegetables, fruit—from family farms as close to Chicago as possible and plan to use only in-season ingredients. The menu, which is still being worked out, will also feature turkey and veggie burgers, as well as just-baked pies and hand-churned ice cream. And on weekend mornings, they'll hold farm breakfasts.
The name Grange Hall pays tribute to the Midwest's family farmers and the name itself is inspired by the National Grange of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry, a fraternal organization that "encourages family farmers to band together for their common economic well-being," according to the new restaurant's website.
The concept for the farm-to-table idea goes back in Angela Lee's roots, as both sets of her grandparents were working farmers and some of her fondest childhood memories come from being on the farms. "Angela is very excited about it because it's the food she grew up with and she's come full circle now that she's doing a restaurant around it," Lee said. "People are realizing the quality of food they put into their bodies is important and are willing to pay more to eat that way."
The restaurant is being designed by Amelia Briske, who also designed Veerasway, Sushi Wabi and de cero, which the Lees also own. The interior design is still being finalized, but will have large communal farm tables and a bar that will serve alcohol as well as ice cream and milkshakes.
As for the Veerasway legacy, Juhu Beach is already scheduled to set up a tent at the Bucktown Arts Fest (Aug. 27 and 28) and the North Coast Music Festival (Sept. 2-4). Eventually the Lees want to launch a Juhu Beach food truck, and are targeting Spring of 2012 for that.
· Grange Hall Farm Burger [website]