The Southern is closing after six years in Bucktown. The Southern-inspired bar and restaurant, known for its macaroni and cheese and bourbon drinks, will close on Jan. 15, according to a news release. Workers will start remodeling it into a new restaurant from the owners behind the decadent Gold Coast steakhouse Maple & Ash, the Tribune reports. They’re aiming for a spring opening at 1840 W. North Ave.
Maple & Ash chef Danny Grant and sommelier Belinda Chang will assume the same roles at the new Bucktown restaurant, with Grant serving as executive chef and Chang as director of wine & service. They don’t have a name for the restaurant yet and they’re not yet ready to share details on the new concept.
The Southern opened in 2010, taking over for Chaise Lounge. Both restaurants made use of a unique multi-level space with a large outdoor patio. Grant, Chang and company have formed a new restaurant group, now named What If Syndicate, to open their new restaurant. It will be the fourth concept inside the space, as the building served as the Wicker Park outpost of Iggy’s in 2005 until Chaise took over in 2008.
The shutter could mean the end of the Southern brand, which included a food truck exclusively for its mac and cheese, and its website and Facebook page have already vanished. The Southern also opened a storefront for its mac and cheese back in 2011 on Lake Street in The Loop, which closed about a year later and is now home to a Billy Goat Tavern. Chef Cary Taylor, who had a large part in the initial success of The Southern, left the restaurant in fall 2013. The Southern ownership has not yet responded to inquiries. Stay tuned for more information on the star-studded concept that’s replacing it.
UPDATE: Belinda Chang answered a few questions about the concept. She wrote, via email, that they will offer their own special version of fine dining without taking themselves too seriously—executing the food properly but at the same time having fun. There won’t be “snotty sommeliers” or tasting menus. They hope to create a restaurant that will satiate folks who crave serious food and drink: “Wait until you see what we have planned for No. 2.”