Stone Flower, the new restaurant from Jacob Bickelhaupt, formerly of Michelin-starred restaurant 42 Grams, opens tonight in Bucktown. 42 Grams abruptly closed in 2017 after Bickelhaupt attacked his ex-wife and business partner, Alexa Welsh, at the restaurant during an argument.
Bickelhaupt’s new fine dining restaurant features a 12- to 15-course tasting menu that costs $300 per person after service charges. That would rank it, as Fooditor pointed out, as the second-most expensive tasting menu in Chicago, second only to three-Michelin-starred Alinea. 42 Grams lasted three and a half years and earned a two-star Michelin rating in its first year. Bickelhaupt said that he hopes to earn three stars with Stone Flower.
The restaurant, which occupies the space that once belonged to Dixie and Takashi at 1952 N. Damen Avenue, has a 12-seat chef’s counter and serves a tasting menu, just like 42 Grams did. According to its website, the menu will be “ever evolving,” and “pay tribute to the ingredients with a sense of time and place.” Also: “A thoughtful wine list is intelligently sourced from all around the globe and a focus on living life to the absolute fullest. We would love to welcome you to what we consider our home for creativity and a place of community.”
In March, Bickelhaupt held dinners at Stone Flower’s unopened space and on social media he wrote that the meals raised money for a domestic violence support charity, Between Friends. In a follow-up post on Instagram, he claimed that he raised $2,000 for the charity.
Between Friends, which provided services to Bickelhaupt’s ex-wife Welsh as she recovered from the June 2017 attack, told Eater that it was not directly involved in the dinner events and only became aware of them through social media. Last week, a Between Friends rep said he was unsure if it had received the money.
“I guess it’s longer than the normal amount of time between a fundraiser and us receiving those funds,” Joe Macaré, Between Friends’s individual giving and communications manager told Eater on May 10. “We have not received [the donation], unless it was made by another name that we didn’t recognize — to the best of our knowledge — we haven’t received anything from Jacob Bickelhaupt.”
When contacted earlier today, Between Friends Executive Director Shailushi Ritchie wrote the organization had since adopted a new policy of not confirming or denying donors or clients to preserve confidentiality. Bickelhaupt did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the status of the donation. (See update at the end of the story.)
Bickelhaupt pled guilty to battery in 2017 for the attack on Welsh. This year, he unveiled the One Flow Foundation, to “host pop up benefit dinners by Chef Jacob Bickelhaupt to raise money that will go directly to fund educational groups led by professional counselors.” The effort is described as a nonprofit with a mission of “raising awareness of how substance abuse and emotional health affect chefs in the kitchen.”
Reservations for Stone Flower are available exclusively via Eventbrite. The 5:30 p.m. Thursday dinner was sold out for opening night. At the time of publication, the ticketing website showed seats remaining for the later 8:30 p.m. Thursday dinner. Tickets remained for every other dinner through June 1, according to the ticketing pages.
Bickelhaupt did not respond to multiple requests for comment asking about the One Flow Foundation, Stone Flower’s opening date, further plans for the restaurant, or other details.
Stone Flower, 1952 N. Damen Avenue, open Wednesday through Sunday with seatings at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays in May will be reserved for private events; tickets available via Eventbrite.
UPDATE: Jacob Bickelhaupt emailed on the morning of Monday, May 20 to respond to an inquiry send by Eater in the days before the original story was published. Bickelhaupt reiterated that his charity group, One Flow Foundation, raised money for Between Friends. He said they sent a check from $2,001.55 and a letter to the organizations “weeks ago.”
“It seems that the public was misled. I have been accused of stealing. So much emotional pain and stress have been cause and all we tried to do was help those in need. Between Friends should be looking for a check from “One Flow Foundation”. They also received a letter from us along with a check of $2,001.55 weeks ago.”
UPDATE: Bickelhaupt on Tuesday, May 21 forwarded an email sent to him by Between Friends that acknowledged his donation. The donation was received on May 16, according to the email which Bickelhaupt also sent to Eater. Between Friends sent the message on the night of May 21. The email has since been posted on the One Flow Foundation Instagram account.