Ahmed Braimah feels there is something special inside the West Loop space where he runs Eleven Eleven, a two-level restaurant and bar that opened last August. Braimah worked at Honey’s, the restaurant in the space before Eleven Eleven, and he’s seen success at 1111 W. Lake Street. When Honey’s officially closed in January 2018, the space went on the market and Braimah heard parties interested in moving in wanted to gut the insides, demolishing all the work that Braimah and the team put into the old restaurant.
That didn’t sit too well with Braimah and he saw an opportunity: “We had to do something with the space,” he said.
He began making calls and spoke with his cousin, former Chicago Bulls center and University of Kentucky standout basketball player Nazr Mohammed. Mohammed — a Chicago native who is currently working with the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team — became an investor. Braimah also secured funding from another ex-athlete. Israel Idonije is a former football player with the Chicago Bears. Together, they invested in the space and opened Eleven Eleven. And now, they’re hoping to unveil a new rooftop patio in June.
Honey’s earned acclaim over its lifespan of nearly two years with a fine dining vibe, but customers kept telling Braimah that they wanted a more casual space. Eleven Eleven vanquished the white tablecloths and Braimah and chef Pierce Buckman unveiled a menu where the priciest entree is $26. The best way to describe the menu is modern American with a dash of international flavors including a piri piri chicken and waffle.
But now Braimah is ready to take Eleven Eleven to the next level. He’s applied for a permit for a rooftop deck. Customers would enter through doors on the second floor and order from a special patio menu of small bites and cocktails. They’ll hear the rumble of the “L” trains pass by at eye level. It’s a unique view that still feels like a Chicago neighborhood even in the West Loop where developers are quickly gobbling up parcels of land.
Braimah is going for more a lounge vibe. He has no design on blasting loud music and turning the space into a club. It’s a small space with room for about 45. If all goes well, Braimah hopes to open in June, pending the results of a mid-May hearing on the matter.
Stay tuned for updates whenever spring decides to stay in Chicago.