"It won't just be a Juno 2.0," Jason Chan says of his rebuilt acclaimed Japanese restaurant, "we want it to be a brand new Juno."
Chan and chef B.K. Park are turning a tragedy into an opportunity to change their restaurant, which they're now hoping to reopen on September 3 following a January fire that resulted in the gutting of the whole front bar area. Buildout is now complete and they've moved on to cosmetic touches and menu tastings, which will begin in a matter of days.
When it reopens, expect to see some changes in the look, service, and food—especially in the front. The bar will now be strictly a bar—serving drinks and a separate food menu that won't serve Park's acclaimed sushi but will serve "really unique takes on charcuterie," including products from West Loop Salumi. The front change means they're reducing the dining capacity from 85 to 55 seats.
The rear dining room was largely spared from the fire, but the hot menu there, now executed by chef Sam McDermott, is still changing. Chan says that they'll serve a different themed menu every month, with the first focusing on bird dishes. Juno will now only serve one noodle dish per month as well, such as a cold soba noodle in a summer month and different ramens when the weather turns chillier.
There's also a brand-new beverage director: Richard Ribando, a former Elizabeth sommelier and veteran of Next and The Aviary. He will implement a "more concentrated" drink program that pares down the sake and wine bottle selection and adds more glass pours.
"How many businesses get to reinvent themselves after 8 months?," Chan ponders. He, Park and the rest of the Juno team are attempting to make the most of that opportunity when it reopens in September.
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