After almost three years, that River North space that once housed Tavernita is finally slated to house a new restaurant — from two of Chicago’s most-celebrated chefs. In an unusual arrangement, Paul Kahan proteges Erling Wu-Bower (Nico Osteria) and Cosmo Goss (The Publican) will leave their restaurants to open a new spot at 151 W. Erie St. The chefs will form a new restaurant group, Underscore Hospitality, while their current bosses at One Off Hospitality Group will partner with them in opening the new group’s first restaurant.
It’s a bold step as Wu-Bower and Goss prepare to leave two of Chicago’s most-popular restaurants. The close friends will be partners and co-executive chefs while the new restaurant will center around hearth cooking. The opening for the unnamed restaurant will take time, as Goss told the Tribune that he thinks he and Wu-Bower will remain at their current restaurants for six to eight months. The Trib also reported that One Off’s Paul Kahan, Donnie Madia, and Terry Alexander will partner to help the new restaurant. One Off’s strategic operations director Josh Tilden will have two jobs—his current one and a new one as Underscore’s third partner. One Off has already started the search for Wu-Bower’s replacement in the Gold Coast. Jacob Saben will continues as chef du cuisine at Publican in West Loop, while A.J. Walker will keep the same at the Wicker Park spin off.
Tavernita, a former hotspot that was owned by Mercadito Hospitality and helmed by chef Ryan Poli, has been closed since August 2014. The River North site has housed a pop-up or two in the interim.