One of Chicago’s most anticipated new restaurants of 2017 is heading to the site of one of 2016’s biggest closures. The new spot from the power couple of the Boka Restaurant Group and ex-Boho chef and Eater Award-winner Jimmy Papadopoulos is taking over the prominent Embeya space on Randolph Street in the West Loop. The restaurant now has a name too—The Bellemore—and it’s slated to open this summer.
Papadopoulos says they were “waiting for the ink to dry” on the paperwork until recently, and they now have keys to the space and it “really is shaping up.” And although the Embeya space was famously gorgeous, the Boka guys “will be doing a little bit of a buildout” and changing it up. Boka co-owners Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, the James Beard Award finalists for outstanding restaurateur and owners of a James Beard Award finalist for best design (Momotaro), “doesn’t do anything small,” he says.
As for the food at The Bellemore, that part is still in its infancy but Boehm, Katz, and Papadopoulos have a phrase to describe it: “New American Classic.” Asked to elaborate, Papadopoulos is vague but emphasizes Boka’s reputation for standout service, design, and operations, then poses a rhetorical question. “What is American cooking?” he says. “It’s everything. It’s all encompassing. The menu is going to feel very warm, very soulful, very fluid. It’s a new American classic and how you define that through a chef’s eyes. Kevin and Rob want me to do what I do — bright, bold, and beautiful cooking.”
The name The Bellemore is meant to encompass that new American classic concept. “We talked about a lot of names, but The Bellemore felt right,” he says. “It’s Mr. Bellemore’s manor and no one knows who Mr. Bellemore is.”
Everybody in the Chicago food scene knows who Kevin Boehm, Rob Katz, and Jimmy Papadopoulos are, however. And they’ll know what The Bellemore is too by the time it hopefully opens this summer at 564 W. Randolph St.