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Au Cheval Owner Plans Massive Dining and Entertainment Complex Along Chicago River

Hogsalt and Brendan Sodikoff are rolling out a project on Goose Island

A portrait of Brendan Sodikoff in a black suit.
Brendan Sodikoff
Hogsalt Hospitality [Official Photo]
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.

While Lincoln Yards continues to grab headlines, Hogsalt Hospitality’s Brendan Sodikoff has been busy working on a dining and entertainment project that also uses land along the Chicago River. Sodikoff’s company runs restaurants including Au Cheval and Green Street Smoked Meats in West Loop, and the new Aster Hall along Michigan Avenue. Today, he confirmed plans for a massive dining and entertainment complex on a 3.5-acre boatyard site on Goose Island, in between Lincoln Park and Wicker Park.

“It’s the most exciting project I’ve had the pleasure to work on,” Sodikoff texted on Monday morning.

Sodikoff is partnering with developer R2 Companies on this “Goose Island Boathouse” project. There’s certainly room for more than one restaurant and bar on the site, and Hogsalt’s restaurants have a strong customer base. There’s still not a lot of details on the project available, but Sodikoff described it as a single concept that will unite indoor, outdoor, and riverfront elements: “One concept. One experience,” he texted.

The project’s address is 934 N. North Branch Street, just west of Halsted and Chicago and near the Morton Salt Warehouse on Division and Elston. While Lincoln Yards — developer Sterling Bay’s massive proposed residential and retail project — is north of Goose Island, along Elston, R2 (a Sterling Bay Rival) hopes other prospective tenants see Goose Island as an intriguing alternative. Parker Hospitality Group (Hampton Social) and developer Fred Latsko — who also dabbles in the restaurant world with Chicago Q and Blue Door Kitchen and Blue Door Farm Stand — already have their office on the island. R2 is touting the area’s proximity to Lincoln Park’s North/Clybourn CTA Red Line stop and retail like the Apple Store and Crate and Barrel. There’s plenty of old warehouses on the island that would be ripe for development, the company claims.

Crain’s noted that city officials could help the project by extending tax breaks. The property is already in a tax-increment financing district. These TIFs typically last a maximum of 23 years, freezing taxes that would normally go to governmental bodies like schools and parks. The Goose Island TIF is set to expire in November, but the city council could extend it by 13 years.

Sodikoff and R2 have been talking for a while about the project. They feel the time is right to build and make sure Chicagoans know that Goose Island is more than a beer.

“We are making a big commitment to the area with our innovation center and indoor/outdoor hospitality experience,” Sodikoff said.