In less than two weeks, Chicagoans will be able to buy fresh meat, sit down for a meal, drink, attend concerts, and go to Dose Market all in one place. Chop Shop and 1st Ward, the enormous highly-ambitious project in a former auto body shop in the heart of Wicker Park, begins a staggered opening next Sunday.
Phase one will begin September 29 when Dose Market has its first event in its new home. The butcher and deli counter will open that day. Phase two commences the following day when the restaurant and bar opens to the public. Concerts and other events in the 1st Ward will be held soon after, owner Nick Moretti plans four-to-eight shows a month.
With so many moving parts, Moretti is banking on all phases of the 15,000 square-foot operation to draw people in.
"Your first time in this space might be to go to a show or an event, maybe it's that you walked by and wanted to try the sandwiches, or you went to have dinner," Moretti says. "Those are good problems to have."
The first thing passersby will notice is the butcher and deli counter and window seats. While waiting or sitting, patrons can watch the butchering process in a walk-in through a floor to ceiling window. Behind that is the 50-seat first-floor dining area and 27-seat 18-tap bar made from a butcher block. Booths line the right side, the Chop Shop logo stamped on the tables. Through rear swivel doors lies the event space.
Upstairs, guests can explore a second 70-seat dining room, a 60-seat walled-in rooftop patio, and a mezzanine overlooking the event space via a catwalk.
"I wanted (the menus) to be staples done really well," Moretti says. "The fact that we have this in-house butcher allows me to be able to serve a filet and New York strip but you don't have to pay a steakhouse prices."
Sourcing butcher ingredients in-house via local farms, expect lots of meat on chef Josh Marrelli's (Urban Union) menus. There's a "Signature Butcher's Plate" and a "Butcher's Burger," plus ricotta gnocchi, grilled stone fruits, and grilled half chicken to name a few.
In addition to meats and sandwiches, expect grab-and-go items including meatballs, pasta sauces, and lasagna; plus retail goods like oils, cheeses, and beer and wine at the deli and butcher section.