Jared Leonard said he’s targeting a Nov. 15 soft opening date for the Lincoln Park location of The Budlong. This iteration of the Nashville hot chicken spot will serve liquor, and Leonard said he’s working on a beer with Cleetus Friedman, the executive chef at the Caffè Baci mini-chain. Friedman learned much about beer while working at Lincoln Square beer mecca Fountainhead.
And speaking of Lincoln Square, another Budlong should also open by the end of the year in that neighborhood, Leonard said. Despite pending litigation, Leonard said the projects will move forward without his former business partner Phil Tadros.
Here are the details from Lincoln Park: The former Ja’Grill at 1008 W. Armitage Ave. will seat about 40 and have outdoor seating. Leonard wants each of his Budlongs to have different menus. The Lincoln Park location, for example, will serve a batch of seasonal fruit pies. They’ll also serve skinless chicken tenders, a controversial decision for Leonard. Tenders are big with children, but some fried chicken traditionalists scoff at their existence. They’ll come with house-made dipping sauces. No, the tenders won’t be slathered with spice to scare off children with little tolerance for heat. But adults may have the option.
They have a liquor license in Lincoln Park and they’ll serve "The Budlong Punch" (a fruit punch that can be spiked) and a dry cucumber punch. A third cocktail is also planned. Three or four lagers or bocks, beers that would pair well with spicy chicken, will also be poured.
Spudnuts (doughnuts made with potato flour, a nod to the old chain) will make their ways to Lincoln Square at 4619 N. Lincoln Ave. That kitchen’s been set up and the painting and dry-walling are finished. Many have written Lincoln Square off, after multiple delays, but Leonard has never wavered with his commitment to the space.
There’s still the lawsuit with Tadros and Leonard insists those claims lack merit. Tadros claims Leonard is bound by contract to work with him. The Lakeview location of The Budlong closed after four months, due to problems between the two. Leonard is attempting to press forward without Tadros, and would much rather focus on cooking chicken and running Rub’s Backcountry Smokehouse in Rogers Park in The Budlong inside Revival Food Hall than answer more questions regarding that relationship.
Tadros maintained that Lincoln Park property and lease were originally intended for one of his Bow Truss coffeeshops. He said he originally negotiated the lease, but then pivoted toward fried chicken. The property’s landlord, Joe Giovenco, backed Leonard’s account. He declined further comment, citing the lawsuit.
"I would go with whatever Jared said," said Giovenco.