The owners of The Fat Shallot, a gourmet sandwich food truck that’s been around for five years, plan to open a full-serve restaurant this fall in Lincoln Park. The wife-and-husband ownership team of Sarah Weitz and Sam Barron have taken over the space at 2468 N. Clark Street that last housed a Ukrainian dumpling restaurant called Hugo’s Pelmini. They also run a location inside Revival Food Hall in the Loop and a second food truck.
Barron and Weitz are still developing the menu, but Barron called it a collection of their greatest hits — like their grilled cheese and BLT — mingled with new items that he’s not at liberty to divulge. They’ve applied for a liquor license to serve house cocktails and boozy slushies. Barron’s not sure of the space’s seating capacity, but they hope to throw a few picnic tables outside for a sidewalk patio.
The restaurant The Fat Shallot is replacing opened in October and lasted six months. At some point during that time, they also switched names to Igor’s Pelmini. “They left us with a pretty blank canvas,” Barron said.
The Fat Shallot is a Chicago pioneer as one of the first food trucks that could legally cook items onboard the vehicle. After a contentious debate between food truck owners and the restaurant lobby who saw trucks as a market threat, city lawmakers loosened up those restrictions that crippled the industry and set it behind other cities with thriving food truck businesses like New York and L.A. Barron, who worked at Everest and the Pump Room, was worried at first that fans would only flock to The Fat Shallot because of the novelty of a food truck. Immediate success showed him that the truck was more than a fad.
A full-fledged restaurant will provide them more space and eliminate some anxiety. They won’t have to burn gas roaming the city hunting for legal parking spaces — they’re at a premium thanks to laws hurt these small businesses. Barron pointed out that while Chicago has about 500 food trucks, N.Y. and L.A. have 2,000. While restaurant life isn’t easy, the increased peace of mind will hopefully lead to tastier food: “If you forget the ginger, nobody can go to the walk-in cooler and get the ginger,” Barron said of the food truck life. “Somebody has to get into an Uber and get the ginger.”
The Revival location will continue, and with The Fat Shallot graduating to a full brick-and-mortar restaurant, this could be a filed as a Revival success story. The owners of Revival have touted the food hall as an incubator. They can give potential restaurant owners experience without assuming the real estate risks or other costs. The Revival experience gave Barron confidence.
“It really restored our bravery,” he said. “I think Revival gave us, in a sense, the bravery to take this risk.”
Check back for more details in the coming months.