It’s been almost three months since Dustin Drankiewicz — the bartender who’s created Wisconsin-inspired drinks for Pink Squirrel in Logan Square and creative cocktails at MONEYGUN in West Loop — announced he was taking over the Paramount Room space in River West. His crew’s now sharing more details on their plans. Drankiewicz is partnering with former Currency Exchange Cafe and Smoke Daddy chef Lamar Moore on a new (and still unnamed) restaurant and bar set to open this fall at 451 N. Milwaukee Avenue.
The match serves both parties. Drankiewicz was looking for a chef to provide a bar-focused menu to complement his mixology skills. The bar should also have a strong craft beer list. Meanwhile, for the last nine months or so, Moore had been searching for space for a new restaurant. He was zeroing on leaving Chicago for Denver until Drankiewicz approached him with the idea to collaborate.
“We want to create an atmosphere where people can come in and have fun,” Moore said.
For Moore, the opportunity to own stake in a restaurant appealed to him. Construction workers remain busy at the space. They’ve gutted the kitchen to allow Moore to design the space to his liking. Designing a kitchen has been a blast for Moore: “It’s dope,” he said. “Right now, there’s nothing in there, I can pretty much construct the kitchen I’ve always wanted.”
Moore, unsurprisingly, has already purchased a smoker. That will come in handy for the former Smoke Daddy pit master in items such as a weekly prime rib special where he smokes the meat before finishing it off in the oven. He also wants to do a poutine using smoked jus. Moore’s known for his southern cooking, and he plans to serve greens on the menu along with biscuits. He’s also taking input from Drankiewicz, a Wisconsin native. So expect beer-battered fried halibut or cod on Fridays with fresh-cut french fries. They’ll also serve cheese curds. Barbecue will pop up from time to time, and Moore will also serve a double-stacked burger with thin patties and pimento cheese. Weekend brunch is also on the horizon.
The interiors are coming together and it’ll have room for about 50 to 60 people. They’re building a chef’s table, and the restaurant will have an open kitchen. While Moore relished the chance to work at the socially aware Currency Exchange, he said the chance to create a neighborhood restaurant with Drankiewicz’s cocktails was too sweet of an opportunity to ignore.
Details are still coming together, so stay tuned for updates.