After One Off Hospitality took over in October 2015, there's finally movement in the prominent former Francesca's Forno space in the Wicker Park nexus. The space has been completely gutted, and partner Donnie Madia says the group got their permits on Friday and are beginning construction. And Madia revealed some details on the concept, which will bring a version of one of America's essential restaurants—The Publican—to Wicker Park, but with some twists, helmed by chef Cosmo Goss.
"It's going to be a spinoff of our Publican brand," Madia says. "It's going to be lighter fare, a little bit more drinking, a little bit more vegetables. We're going to cook on, for lack of a better word, on a giant barbecue." While The Publican is best known for its pork and other meaty dishes, the restaurant is also renowned for its fish and vegetarian options, which will get more due at the new location.
But the new restaurant won't abandon meat either. Get ready for the Publican burger, as for the first time, One Off Hospitality will cook and serve beef burgers during all business hours. "After all these restaurants, we're going to unveil a hamburger and serve it all night," Madia says. "(And) we're going to have our Publican French fries." Dove's Luncheonette offers a burger but only at lunch, Avec serves a lamb burger at lunch and brunch, and Publican Quality Meats has its weekly Tuesday burger night specials, but only from May through October and those are designed by visiting chefs.
Madia isn't revealing a specific name for the restaurant yet, only saying that "it'll have something to do with Publican but we're going to put a twist in there." In December, "Publican Tavern," which is also slated to open soon at O'Hare, was listed as the restaurant's name on a building permit but a spokeswoman termed it a "temporary placeholder" at that time.
In addition to Goss, pastry wizard Dana Cree and beer director Adam Vavrick are also attached to the project after recent announcements that they would helm their respective positions for the brand's "Publican wing." And nearly the entire block is now something of a One Off Hospitality wing, as Dove's Luncheonette, Big Star and The Violet Hour are within feet of the new spot.
There's no word yet on a more specific opening timeframe for the Publican spinoff, although One Off previously said that the restaurant will open sometime in 2016. Stay tuned for more on one of the year's most anticipated openings as construction progresses.