Smack Shack, the Minneapolis-based lobster roll specialists, have set an April 19 opening date for their first Chicago restaurant, inside Google's 1K Fulton. It's a collaboration between Smack Shack's owners and Chicago's Four Corners Tavern Group (Benchmark), who announced the expansion plan back in August.
They've already popped up at a few spots locally where folks have sampled their food. Smack Shack debuted in 2010 as a Twin Cities food truck and graduated to brick-and-mortar status in 2013. The Chicago spot is their second restaurant and there's plans for one inside Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Baseball fans have made Smack Shack popular, as they're close to Target Field, where the Twins play.
Owner Josh Thoma's family is from the East Coast, and besides the lobster rolls, which come in two varieties (Connecticut and "original") his restaurant is also known for their spicy Andouille sausage po'boys. He calls Smack Shack a "casual coastal concept." They print their menus fresh each day, so the items rotate regularly.
Thoma said the goal for the interior was to avoid looking like a "rubber-stamp chain restaurant." The Chicago space at 326 N. Morgan St. takes up about 10,000 square feet and will house 300 seats. There's also a 100-gallon lobster boil.
Collaborations are the name of the game of late for Four Corners, as crews continue work in Old Town on Steak Bar and in the West Loop on Federales Tequila & Tacos. Hogalt Hospitality's Brendan Sodikoff is consulting on both projects.