The legendary Second City is collaborating with Fifty/50 Restaurant Group for a rooftop bar above the Old Town comedy club. It's one of many new projects for Fifty/50, the group that started with its namesake Wicker Park bar in 2008 and has expanded with Roots Handmade Pizza, cocktail bars like The Sixth in Lincoln Square, and rooftop bars like Apogee in River North.
Company co-founder Scott Weiner shared a taste of his plans with Crain’s. He shared more details on Monday morning with Eater Chicago.
- The joint venture between Second City includes three projects at Piper’s Alley. There’s the unnamed rooftop bar at the northwest corner of North and Wells. It’s about 10,000 square feet with 3,500 square feet covered, unused space that was rebuilt after an August 2015 fire. There aren’t many tall buildings surrounding the area, so it will provide unique views of the city. It will serve food and is slated for a summer 2019 opening. “It think it’s incredibly unique because [the rooftop bar] is not at a hotel,” Weiner said.
- The food for the rooftop will come from a second-floor kitchen that will prepare pizzas for the third Roots location. That location will be on the ground floor where Adobo Grill stood before an August 2015 fire burned down the restaurant at 1610 N. Wells Street.
- There’s a third concept that Weiner isn’t prepared to share details. He calls it a unique idea that “will really grow.” Weiner stressed that there will be true synergy between Second City (which run the 1959 restaurant on bar on premises) and his company. “Second City will really be able to throw some great events in the space,” Weiner said.
- Weiner isn’t sure who will be creating the drinks for his new projects. Longtime beverage director Benjamin Schiller has left the company. The departure was on good terms with Weiner saying he’s comfortable with calling on his friend one again. It doesn’t look like the company will immediately fill the position.
- A fourth Roots pizza is planned for the South Loop at 776 S. Dearborn Street. They’re gunning for a summer 2019 opening of a two-floor restaurant with 320 seats. About 200 seats will be on the second floor that will be covered by a retractable roof.
- When Weiner pitched investors on the first Roots pizza in 2011, he was nervous about opening a Chicago pizzeria that didn’t serve deep dish. The landscape has changed since then, with different pizzas gaining popularity in the city. It wasn’t until the second Roots opened in Lincoln Square that his colleagues believed they could scale the idea to other locations. Weiner credits the philosophy of not taking anything for granted. Salads aren’t an afterthought with sad iceberg lettuce, as customers who don’t want the pizza actually have options. “It seems a ton for us to do,” Weiner said. “But you have to keep growing or die.”
- Crain’s had a rundown on more projects: They’re planning a restaurant at 231 S. LaSalle Street with a chef “that will turn heads.”
- There’s plans for another West Town Bakery a block away from the LaSalle restaurant. The company just opened one across from Wrigley Field.
- The company has plans for a restaurant inside a Milwaukee hotel.
Stay tuned for updates on the many new Fifty/50 projects.