Nearly two years since a fire forced his restaurant to close in Bucktown, the owner of Art of Chicken is making plans for a return. Owner Christian Moreno is targeting an early summer reopening for his restaurant that’s been closed since an August 25, 2017 fire broke out on the roof. He originally hoped to be open in early 2018, but the insurance process took much longer than he anticipated.
Art of Chicken is a restaurant specializing in grilled birds and it debuted in 2013 at 2041 N. Western Avenue. Moreno started out as a food truck owner serving pollo al carbon that’s marinated overnight.
Moreno believed insurance would cover repairs. The building, which he owns, endured severe water damage. No one was hurt in the fire that also damaged the apartment on the second floor. But it took the insurance company — which Moreno won’t name — more than a year to acknowledge coverage. Moreno said he struggled telling his 10 to 12 workers that he didn’t know when and if they’d reopen. Moreno also owns other properties in the area to keep him afloat. In the interim, Moreno got to spent more time with his newborn. Antonio was born 10 months ago.
“It’s the little moments that we tend to cherish,” he said.
Brighter days are now ahead as Moreno plans to serve beer when the restaurant reopens. Art of Chicken was BYOB, but now they’ve applied for a liquor license. It’s one of those things Moreno could explore during the downtime after the fire. They’ve received approvals on most of the needed permits and construction work could start in mid March. They’re also expanding the space to increase the size of the dining room. They’ll also add menu items like a pulled chicken sandwich served on a toasted brioche bun with chipotle mayo, spinach and red onion.
It’s been “an uphill battle” for Moreno to reopen. He never realized the number of people his business affected, from the tenant upstairs who had to find new housing, to his restaurant’s fans. He’s eager to begin serving chicken again, so stay tuned for more news as spring approaches.