Since 2013, Milt’s Barbecue For The Perplexed has given Chicagoans a popular option for kosher barbecue in Lakeview. However, Jews observing that set of religious dietary laws may want more than brisket and beef ribs. That’s why on Monday, Oct. 16 Milt’s plans to open Milt’s Extra Innings, a certified kosher deli next door to the barbecue restaurant at 3409 N. Broadway St. The space lets owner Jeff Aeder showcase his love for baseball and help those with special needs.
“One can’t live on barbecue alone,” said Aeder. Hence, his new spot will serve sandwiches, salads, and plenty of to-go options including take-home boxed meals.
Milt’s still keeps busy with its catering events and a food truck. Aeder is happy with business, but he still wants to show Chicago more than barbecue. Extra Innings customers will pick a style — like roasted roast beef with horseradish and caramelized onions — and again choose how they’ll enjoy the recipe, in either sandwich, wrap, or salad form.
Milt’s staff has kicked around the idea of expanding for almost four years. When Vietnamese restaurant BB Bun Mi’s lease was about to expire, they finally pounced this spring. They’ll cure their own meats, and Extra Innings will sell them in vacuum-sealed pouches for quick carry outs.
“We struggled to branch away from barbecue,” said front of house manager Eric Colón. “But we figured this was they way to do it.”
Aeder and chef Bryan Gryka are big Cubs fans and the restaurant is a short distance east of Wrigley Field. But Extra Innings isn’t a sports bar — it won’t serve alcohol and won’t stay open in the evenings. But it will show Cubs day games and other Chicago sporting events on TV. Anyone who’s walked around the original barbecue will notice the quirky baseball artifacts at the restaurant, as Aeder celebrates the select group of Jews who have played Major League Baseball, a group that includes Detroit’s Hank Greenburg and the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax. Aeder is also the commissioner of the Jewish Baseball Museum. The new restaurant gives him a space to display more of his massive collection of Jewish baseball memorabilia. The space will also feature a mural timeline tracking the history of Jews in the sport from 1860 until today. The timeline will also include updates on current players.
Milt’s donates all its profits to charity, sending money to faith-based groups including Friedman Place and the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. Extra Innings also has a charity in mind: Keshet GADOL Chicago. Keshet helps people with disabilities like Zahava Auerbach, Aeder’s 21-year-old niece. Gryka pitched the charity angle to Aeder, as he knew that Extra Innings is more a community spot rather than a money maker.
Extra Innings plans to hire some workers with special needs, hoping to give them real-world work experience and to prepare them for future employment. Auerbach was their first hire and will start out by greeting customers as a host.
“It will be great to educate the customer as they walk in,” said Josh Weisel, Extra Inning’s kitchen manager.
Next week’s opening day has an admission charge with speakers and a tasting. Meanwhile, Milt’s wants to ensure people know the restaurants aren’t just for Jews; management hires and serves people from all walks of life. Hopefully, the Cubs will be around for more playoff games when Milt’s Extra Innings opens next week.