Today’s the day that Paul Kahan, Terry Alexander, Donnie Madia and One Off Hospitality unveil their newest concept — Publican Anker in Wicker Park. The spinoff of one of the group’s and Chicago's most popular and acclaimed restaurants, The Publican, gives Wicker Park a bar-focused version of the Fulton Market pork and beer hall, which has evolved since first opening its doors in 2009.
But for Paul Kahan, Publican Anker also adds to and fixes aspects of the original. "The Publican is an incredible restaurant but it’s not perfect — none of ours are," Kahan says. "It doesn’t really have a bar and it’s a beer restaurant. So we wanted to make (Publican Anker) very focused on the bar room." Read all about the food and drink here.
The space has the same basic layout as its predecessor, Francesca’s Forno at one of the most visible corner locations in Chicago, meaning the bar itself and the 30-seat front bar room on the corner has epic people watching through its long two-sided windows over Wicker. But aside from the location of the bar and kitchen (along the back hallway), the space has been gutted and is completely different than Forno.
Fans of the Publican will notice nods to the original, most noticeably the bulbous light fixtures that hang in rows throughout the space and over the bar and booths that line the front windows. Beer hall-esque communal tables similar to the original are also present here, but only in the back room and hallway. The rest of the seating consists of high-top tables, counter seats and drink rails in the front room, and counter seats at the back entrance that leads to Damen Avenue, where Glazed & Infused’s doughnut takeout window used to sit.
The beer hall motif continues into decor, as the space is inspired by the Wicker Park’s extensive brewery history from the 1800s, reps say. Expect series of paintings of 1800s brewers, sourced from the Chicago Historical Society, to sit on the back wall opposite the kitchen. Kahan says the scene will be lively at Anker, as rock and roll is the musical theme and will play on vinyl from a record player behind the bar.
With Publican Anker opening today — which is the third Publican spinoff following Publican Quality Meats and the recently-opened Publican Tavern at O’Hare Airport, could One Off Hospitality open more Publican spinoffs in the future? "If we do something next year, which I think we’re hoping to before we open the Big Star in Wrigleyville, it would be something completely different," Kahan says. "I would hope that we would grow the Publican brand more but it’s hard to say. We’re just one at a time guys."
The next one for the one at the time guys, Publican Anker, welcomes its first customers at 3:30 p.m. today in Wicker Park. Take a photo tour below.
Publican Anker, 1576 N. Milwaukee Ave., (773) 904-1121, open daily from 3:30 p.m. until 12 a.m., lunch and brunch hours coming in early 2017.