Fresh on the heels of winning his Jean Banchet award for Best Restaurant, Matthias Merges divulged updates on his two Hyde Park projects. The first untitled European project, located at 1301 E. 53rd, will open early summer. Merges says it will have middle-of-the-road price points, with cuisines broadly based on his travels to Northern Italy, Southern France, and the Alps, with John Vermiglio heading the kitchen. Look for shellfish, grilled meats, handmade pastas, and seasonal full plates. The space will have 120 seats, a full bar, and cocktails from Alex Bachman and the Billy Sunday "cocktail incubator." Yusho Hyde Park, a block away at 1466 E. 53rd, will be "tiny" compared to it's father concept. It will open early in the fall, with a Yusho sous chef captaining the line.
About coming to Hyde Park, four blocks from the University of Chicago campus, Merges says "we can't base a business on one demographic." He'll try to appeal to the neighborhood as a whole. "There's risk involved, but life is risk," he says.
Asked how Billy Sunday is going, Merges says it's drawing over 300 covers a night on weekends. That bodes well for Hyde Park.
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