Former Bottleneck Management Vice President of Operations Kevin O’Hare left the corporate restaurant world to preserve Bad Apple, a beer bar and home of what many believe are Chicago’s best burgers. O’Hare purchased the bar and restaurant in late January from former co-owner Craig Fass, as well as the original recipes that rocketed the restaurant and bar to burger fame. It will remain at its current location, 4300 N. Lincoln Avenue.
“Every server, every cook that’s been making the burgers for the last 10 years, they’re still here,” O’Hare said. “Every food and beer program is going to remain the same.”
After briefly owning a pizza restaurant in his youth, O’Hare said he had little interest in restaurant ownership until he learned Bad Apple — the establishment where he enjoyed “a couple thousand dollars” worth of burgers — was for sale. “Once this came up, I had no choice,” he said. He has run the restaurant full time for two weeks, after leaving Bottleneck, the national restaurant and bar group known for Old Town Pour House, and Sweetwater Tavern and Grill.
Bad Apple has operated in North Center for about a decade and earned a committed cult following, thanks to its popular burgers. Menu standouts include the Waygu Wednesday special featuring 45-day aged prime rib (while supplies last), the Roman patty melt with truffled ricotta, and the señor sloth with pork al pastor, pineapple and jalapeño. Fass put the restaurant up for sale in July, 2018.
O’Hare said he does not anticipate any menu or staff changes, and will continue to purchase the burger bar’s custom ground beef blend from acclaimed New Jersey-based meat god Pat LaFrieda. He does plan to make a few cosmetic adjustments, including fresh paint and new outdoor lighting.
“All the stuff that makes it the Bad Apple is remaining intact,” O’Hare said. “I have no intention of screwing up a great place.”
Fass suggested a smart buyer would open a new location downtown or outside Chicago. O’Hare said he predicts future expansion but wants to focus on the original for the time being.