Oak + Char is just the first new project for Art Mendoza and MBL Hospitality. The Chicago restaurant vet, who helped open Untitled and Roka Akor, among many, is taking over the shuttered Vapiano at 2577 N. Clark in Lincoln Park.
Mendoza says he's still fleshing out the concept, design, and name, but terms the broad idea "our own version of American cuisine." With eyes towards expansion, he hired David Wang (Coppervine) and Mark Avila (Mastro's Steakhouse) as co-sous chefs at Oak + Char, and one of them will run the new place alongside executive chef Joe Heppe.
Since Vapiano shuttered last July, the landlord has had to make necessary repairs on the 6000-square-foot space, Mendoza says. He hopes to get his permits in the next few weeks and is planning to open in May or June. Stay tuned.