Expect changes in January at Community Tavern, as the Portage Park restaurant steps away from the neighborhood steakhouse concept. Founder Quay Tao is taking a diminished role, as chef Joey Beato and his wife — director of operations Brenna Beato — will assume the day-to-day operations. They’ll close the restaurant from New Year’s Day to January 9 while they make a few renovations. When they reopen they’ll unveil a tweaked menu and enhanced decor.
“What I truly love to cook is just old-school Korean and Japanese food,” Joey Beato said. “It’s just no BS, it’s straight-up cooking, it’s not about putting any flowers on plates.”
Community Tavern opened in February 2015 to bring downtown-caliber fine dining to a Northwest side neighborhood restaurant. Joey Beato joined shortly after the opening, and Brenna Beato joined in April 2015.
Tao and the Beatos reason the change is the best move for all parties. Business is going well, but it was time to make a move. The Beatos have long dreamed of running their own restaurant, while Tao has other interests. He doesn’t want to make any announcements, but Tao has invested in the neighborhood with Cochinita Taco Co. He plans on sharing news early next year and will utilize culinary staff he already knows in those upcoming projects, he said. Tao converted his diner, The Portage, to the Mexican restaurant.
Beato’s cooking combines French and Italian techniques with Japanese and Korean influences. They’re scaling down the menu which currently features five different steaks. They’ll reduce that to two. The menu will have more sharable plates — think whole fish.
Brenna Beato is handling the switches to the decor. They’re swapping out some tables and chairs in the private event space. They’re putting up photos of the staff, themselves, and their newborn son around the room. She said that the story of the restaurant is “deeply personal” and that they want to make the space comfy. She also had warm words for Tao.
“We’re grateful to Quay, even to this moment, when my husband met him in the interview, he had this sense — a gut feeling that this was what he was supposed to do,” Brenna Beato said.
Tao and the Beatos brought up the need to retain the staff, both describing them as family members. Tao called his new role as an advisory one — they’re still figuring it out. They’ve been talking about a change in ownership for about a year.
“I’m just really happy for them,” Tao said. “They’ve been such a huge part of what we’re about.”
The Beatos are just the latest husband-and-wife team to run a restaurant. That list includes The Smyth + The Loyalist, Elske, and Oriole.