Bellwether owners Nick and George Tsoukalas picked barbecue as the focus for their third restaurant because of a lack of options in the South Loop. Belly Up is the name of the venture, slated to open by the end of the summer at 1132 S. Wabash Ave. Nick Tsoukalas says the restaurant will feature a mixture of Kansas City- and Texas-style barbecue.
"It was just something that was missing in the area, and it's something fun," Tsoukalas said.
Besides Porkchop, barbecue picks are slim in the neighborhood. Belly Up will feature ambient country music and would be the brothers' third restaurant — they also own Vinyl in River North. Tsoukalas didn't want to divulge much about the new restaurant's design inside the building shell, as they're still making decisions. They'll work with the existing exposed brick walls, high ceilings and a garage door — which would be left open on warm days. Tsoukalas is guessing they'll have a bar with 15 stools and seating for about 150, plus 25 to 30 more on the sidewalk.
They've stockpiled a few recipes. It's not an open-kitchen concept, but they will use Southern Pride equipment. Right now, Tsoukalas has his hands full with Belly Up, but will the brothers open more restaurants in the future?
"Ideally I would like to, but I don't want to rush growth," he said. "My father always said, 'if you run too fast, you're bound to trip.'"