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Star Bartender Julia Momose Picks the West Loop For Her Dream Bar

Kumiko should debut in the spring

Julia Momose
Nick Fochtman
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

When Julia Momose left her job as GreenRiver’s head bartender in December in Streeterville, the star mixologist — a 2016 Eater Young Gun — teased that she had a dream and was “going to chase it.” She’s spent the last seven months creating mocktails and other drinks in the West Loop at Oriole, but now Momose has revealed what’s she’s building toward: a new bar. Momose is partnering with her friends from Oriole to open Kumiko, a Japanese-inspired bar at an undisclosed location in the West Loop. It should open in the spring.

Momose, who’s also worked at The Aviary in Fulton Market, would not reveal Kumiko’s location, and neither did a spokeswoman for the bar. The space appears to be smallFood & Wine reported that there’s room for eight — and they’ll serve an omakase-style cocktail tasting. The drink list will have 11 to 15 selections, and they will only stock select liquors. They will serve also serve food. Kumiko, as Food & Wine pointed out, is the Japanese art of intricate woodworking. Momose, a native of Japan, means to apply that intricate philosophy to her bar. As she’s embraced booze-free drinks at Oriole, Momose will also serve spirit-free drinks at Kumiko.

And speaking of Oriole, Noah and Cara Sandoval are collaborating with Momose on the project which is under construction. It’s worth nothing that in 2015, before opening their now-Michelin-starred restaurant, the Sandovals didn’t immediately reveal the restaurant’s address. They’re using the same strategy with Kumiko. A spokeswoman shared a brief description of the concept. It stressed a “thoughtful experience” and “an elevated bar atmosphere in an elegant setting, that is both refined and relaxed.”


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