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Old Town Finally Knows What Will Replace Salpicón on Wells Street

The Optima seeks to channel rock ‘n’ roll

The Optima is coming to the former Salpicón space in Old Town.
Ashok Selvam
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.

It’s been more than two years since Salpicón — a trailblazer for Mexican cuisine in Chicago for 22 years — closed in Old Town. Now there are signs of what will replace the Wells Street stalwart. The owners of the building at 1252 N. Wells Street are hiring for a new 100-seat restaurant called The Optima.

The restaurant’s owners are Glass Half Full, a company formerly headquartered in Chicago that moved last year to Phoenix, according to the Chicago Business Journal. They opened The Rabbit Hole, a bar vaguely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, in 2016. It’s located a block south of The Optima site at 1208 N. Wells Street. Two years ago, The Rabbit Hole’s owners said they were looking to open multiple bars or restaurants in the neighborhood.

Beyond the name, there’s not much known about the restaurant. There’s a restaurant website that’s under construction with dummy copy. The only nugget from that copy described The Optima as “modern fare with Rock-n-Roll.” A job listing echoes that, describing the project as “a 100+ seat modern American restaurant inspired by the rebellious spirit of rock and roll.” So, while the Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s may be a pile of rubble just a few blocks south in River North, perhaps the genre’s demise is over exaggerated. Or ripe for a themed restaurant in Old Town.

Check back for more details if Glass Half Full shares additional information. A message to Rabbit Hole’s owner/operator wasn’t immediately returned.