A massive new dining, drinking and gaming concept is on the way to a rapidly changing stretch of Wicker Park. Robert Thompson, founder of Denver-based hospitality company Seasoned Development, completed a deal yesterday to take over a four-story building on 1348 Milwaukee Avenue. Thompson will turn the 27,000-square-foot space into his grown-up playground concept, Punch Bowl Social, that will bring a 24-hour "gastrodiner," two cocktail bars, a bowling alley, ping pong, private karaoke rooms, and more to Chicago for a projected late-2015 opening.
Thompson, who owns Punch Bowl Socials in Denver, Portland, Austin and is about to open one in Detroit, calls bringing the concept to Chicago a "dream come true" that he's been attempting to do since 2007. "To join the Chicago restaurant scene is truly an honor," he says. "(Wicker Park) is a quintessential Chicago neighborhood."
The Punch Bowl Social concept is all about bringing out the inner child. In addition to the gaming, the menus feature updated takes on trendy comfort food (burgers, chicken and waffles, bar snacks, breakfast and lunch). An array of punch bowls, classic cocktails, craft beer, milkshakes, fernet and coffee, fresh juices, and fizzes are among the drink options.
The four floors of the Milwaukee Avenue location will be broken into a first-floor restaurant while the bars, bowling alley, ping pong, lounges, karaoke, lounges, and private party rooms will live on the second and third. Thompson is unsure of what he'll use the basement for. "I never thought I'd be able to put 27,000-square-feet together (in Wicker Park)," he says.
Thompson's team was drawn to Wicker Park rather than River North for its urban and gritty vibe "that's not overcommercialized." The building, a former furniture store, is currently undergoing demolition and Thompson hopes to begin construction in May. His team will start design work as soon as next week.
Expect Wicker Park to get its massive grown-up playground by late 2015.