After 10 months, there’s news about the massive Randolph Street space that housed 2Fun/WonFun Chinese in the West Loop. The owners of the Wellesbourne, a Los Angeles restaurant/lounge, intend to open a Chicago spot by mid-November, according to a spokesperson. Ownership put up signs on Wednesday at 905 W. Randolph Street that announced the space’s new name, The Darling.
The Darling will take up both floors next to Italian sandwich maker J.P. Graziano. The Graziano family owns the building. The Darling’s second floor is above Graziano’s; it’s converted warehouse space for Graziano’s old wholesale business. Jimmy Graziano said The Darling picked up the remaining nine years left on 2Fun/WonFun’s lease.
There’s a website set up and even a Yelp site. But neither yield clues about The Darling’s food and drink. A spokesperson would only say that they’ve hired a “prominent local chef,” but they’re not ready to say who. The first floor, which housed the restaurant portion of 2Fun/WonFun’s restaurant/lounge, was narrow with an open kitchen to the right of the entrance. The second floor was much larger with a large bar in the center of the space and booths on the perimeter. A spokesperson wasn’t ready to share details on how The Darling would be laid out.
The proprietor of the Darling is Sophie Huterstein. She opened the Wellesbourne in 2010 in LA. It’s more of a lounge with velvet curtains where customers entered and plenty of books used for decor. They added sit-down dinner service in 2016. The menu includes hangar steak, shepherd’s pie, and raspberry cider-glazed pork ribs. Locally, it’s known for classic cocktails. While Huterstein hasn’t shared publicly what she has planned for The Darling, her spokesperson said she plans on bringing some of her staff from LA to Chicago.
Many in the West Loop worry that Randolph Restaurant Row will become overrun with chains thanks to increased rent. High-profile openings by McDonald’s and Starbucks haven’t done much to calm those nerves. But Graziano said he’s confident in Huterstein. Several parties contacted 2Fun/WonFun’s owner Austin Baker to take over his lease, but Graziano’s happy because he feels she understands his ethos as one of the last family-owned businesses in the area. Graziano’s began focusing on sandwiches five years ago as it drifted away from wholesale. Ownership recently celebrated the business’s 81st birthday.
A Darling spokesperson said they’re still finalizing some details before sharing with the public. They’ll reveal more information soon.