The owner of Cheesie’s Pub & Grub, the grilled cheese specialists with locations in Lakeview and Wicker Park, is opening a pizzeria. Chris Johnston announced plans for Slice of Cheesie’s, located next to their Lakeview location at 958 W. Belmont Avenue. That’s the location vacated by Blackwood BBQ when it closed in December. Johnston hopes to open by April 1.
They’ll knock down the wall separating Cheesie’s from the new space and sell pizzas by the slice. Johnston said many of Cheesie’s sandwiches will be available in pizza form. Think thin-crust mac and cheese pizzas, jalapeño popper pies with chipotle cream spread, and “The Tenderizer” (cheddar, mozzarella, hot sauce, bacon, fried chicken tenders Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce).
Johnston has signed a lease and Cheesie’s had to fend off competition from Taco Bell to secure the space. Taco Bell has readied building permits to open a boozy Taco Bell Cantina at the address. That’s a little bit more than a half mile south from the Taco Bell near Wrigley Field at 1111 W. Addison Street. Fans are bracing as that restaurant is close to closing to make room for new development. A spokeswoman for Taco Bell did not return a request for comment.
Slice of Cheesie’s will have a late-night pizza counter with six or so pizzas available by the slice. Whole pies will be available for delivery. Many of the pies don’t use marinara sauce. They’ll also serve garlic knots and perhaps Buffalo wings. Johnston will fill the space with a few more vintage video games. He’s thinking tabletop models where customers can sit down and eat and then play if the desire.
Cheesie’s debuted in 2011 in Lakeview and then expanded the next year, taking over the neighboring space in Belmont. This would be Cheesie’s second expansion at the same location. Nostalgia plays a big part of the Cheesie’s brand, with old-school video games and movie posters. Slice of Cheesie’s represents a throwback to the restaurant’s menu in 2012 when they offered pizza at Cheesie’s. They couldn’t keep up with serving pizza and grilled cheese, so Johnston nixed pizza off the menu in 2013.
Johnston, who also owns Wicker Park’s Whiskey Business, is stoked.
“We’re happy to be bringing pizza back,” Johnston said. “It’s something that we loved and missed.”