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Six Restaurant and Bar Staff Shuffles to Know in Chicago

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Katana, the Japanese spot heading to River North, has an executive chef

Amber Lancaster
Courtesy of Benie’s Lunch & Supper
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.

RIVER NORTH— Katana, the Hollywood import coming to River North that was announced two years ago, still doesn’t have an opening date to share with the public. But the Japanese spot—famous as a celebrity hangout in Los Angeles—has named an executive chef. They’ve promoted Jose “Junior” Melendez. He comes over from Katana’s West Hollywood location, according to Chicago. Melendez has been with Katana’s parent company since 2010. Katana is set to take over the former Bin 36 space inside Marina City, 339 N. Dearborn St. Katana also named Rob Juan as executive sushi chef. He’s the former sous chef at Katana Los Angeles. Reps stressed that Katana will be focusing on the restaurant aspect and it won’t have a club element. Katana is still slated to open later this summer.

LOGAN SQUARE— It’s not new news, but Caitlin Laman has left Mezcaleria Las Flores. Her departure happened over the spring, only a few months after she took the job as head bartender at MLF, Eater Chicago’s 2016 bar of the year. Her exit would explain why she wasn’t made available for comment in this Reader article about mezcal. Laman took the bar away from its initial mezcal focus toward more of a general drink list. She was a former Food & Wine best new mixologist formerly from the San Francisco Bay Area. Stay tuned for news on the bar’s next move.

Caitlin Laman
Cindy Loughridge

RIVER NORTH— Bernie’s Lunch & Supper, the River North restaurant popular for its roof deck, has a new executive chef. Ownership hired Amber Lancaster. Her experience includes time at Alinea and as executive sous chef at Moto.

RIVER NORTH/O’HARE— The Boarding House has a new beverage director/head sommelier. Alpana Singh and team promoted Patrick Hymer to the position. In an email, former sommelier Kelly Peterson Bates wrote that she’s moving to Pittsburgh with her husband. Her last day at Singh’s River North restaurant is Saturday, June 24. She’s married to Erik Bates, the chef at Publican Tavern at O’Hare International Airport.

Mezcaleria Las Flores

3149 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL (773) 278-2215

Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)

10000 W O'Hare Ave, Chicago, IL 60666 (773) 686-2200 Visit Website

Bernie's Lunch & Supper

660 North Orleans Street, , IL 60654 (312) 624-9892 Visit Website

The Boarding House

720 North Wells Street, , IL 60654 (312) 280-0720 Visit Website