There aren’t as many diners in Chicago as there used to be, but Dollop Coffee means to change that while trying new concepts. Earlier this year, they unveiled a new bake shop in the Ukrainian Village, and they’ve partnered with Hoosier Mama Pie Co. in Evanston. Now comes news that they plan on opening a full-service diner with all-day breakfast in March in Andersonville.
“I know restaurants can be scary,” Weiss said. “This is going to have counter service with a number system. We’ll probably have runners on the weekend.”
The Dollop diner, planned for 5060 N. Clark St., should seat about 50 and have a patio. Weiss didn’t want to compete with Andersonville coffee shops like La Colombe and wanted to give the neighborhood something different. They’re still figuring some aspects out, like if they’ll stay open late after nearby bars like Simon’s Tavern close. They may also adopt similar hours to another Andersonville stalwart, Hopleaf, which closes around 11 p.m./midnight. It’s a family-friendly place for Weiss, who has two children.
The diner’s chef, Keith Kreuser, is the beverage director at Boltwood in suburban Evanston. Weiss has known him for 15 years. He’s Weiss’ sound engineer for when he dons his rapper alter ego, Verbal Kent. Kreuser is a man of many hats as he also managed the Cross-Rhoades restaurant in Evanston: “He’s just one of the most talented guys I know,” Weiss said.
They’re planning a breakfast-focused menu of comfort foods. Items should include house-made doughnuts; chicken and waffles; and a breakfast sandwich with farm egg, bacon and gouda. Dinner will include fried chicken thighs and pulled pork. Weiss also hopes for liquor license for kegged cocktails and local beer.
Paul Leisen, another friend, will design the space using plenty of woods and chrome. He also designed Dollop’s coffee shops. Diner culture has changed in Chicago through the years, Weiss said. For one, customers can’t enjoy a cigarette indoors with their customary coffee and bacon thanks to the city-wide ban on smoking in public places. Chicago’s ascendance as a center for fine dining may have also made a casualty of diners. Chicago’s seeing more fancy takes on diners from restaurant groups rather than straight-laced spots like the Golden Nugget chain.
The Dollop diner spinoff represents a divergence for Weiss, who runs 11 coffee shops across the city. For now, he’s focused on opening this one diner. He’s not looking to scale: “It’s about doing something correctly and seeing where it goes.”
DNAinfo first reported the project.