Alinea Group’s chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas hosted a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” earlier today to answer fan questions. The owners of Alinea, Next, Aviary, and Roister teased out some of their future plans — including that they’re planning to incorporate live music into the former Moto space on Fulton Market — as well as shared some personal stories.
Kokonas wrote that they also bought the neighboring space, a former furniture store, in order to combine it with the former Moto at 945 W. Fulton Market:
“For a long time we've wanted to do a venue that combines a few great experiences in one place—primarily food and music. That's our intention in that location... and serving breakfast too. Designing what we have in our heads has been a challenge but we're being patient. The one thing we try to do, regardless of the cost, is not to run too quickly towards a build without fully understanding what we want our guests to experience. I think we're getting close.”
The questions tackled a variety topics including financial inquiries, Tock, and why restaurants close. “The press just tries to make excuses for places closing that they liked,” Kokonas wrote. “Usually it's that the restaurant was not run well as a business.”
Achatz also shared his personal cancer struggles with a fellow survivor who took strength from the chef’s battle.
“I definitely think about it everyday. The medical team told me while going through treatment that I would have a "new normal" and while I am cancer free and have regained my sense of taste, the side effects will be permanent. Things like basic head movement, swallowing, and tolerance for spicy food or things that are cold or hot are difficult. And no matter how good you are at compartmentalising, you always wonder if it will come back.”
Kokonas showed some love for a few Chicago restaurants. When it comes to Italian he goes to Riccardo Trattoria in Lincoln Park and Monteverde in West Loop. When it comes to Japanese it’s Katsu in West Rogers Park and Roka Akor in River North. He also prefers the Chicago-style ribs at Twin Anchors, and thin-crust pizzas from Spacca Napoli in Ravenswood and Coalfire in Lakeview/West Town.
And speaking of pizza, the AMA revealed that Achatz wants to do a wood-fired pizza place. They wouldn’t do Chicago style because Kokonas “consider[s] deep dish to be a casserole.”
Read much more in the full Q&A via the link above.