A neighborhood cafe flaunting cherry wood-smoked meats and more is coming to Lincoln Park this fall. Ella’s BBQ, a new restaurant from the husband-and-wife team behind boozy brunch haven Lokal and Earl’s Drive-Thru BBQ, is slated to open November 1 at 723 W. Armitage Avenue. It’ll be a tight turnaround, as the smoker is scheduled to arrive the day before. The corner spot formerly housed burger and hot dog spot Fritzy’s Lincoln Park.
Owners Gosia Pieniazek and Art Wnorowski hope to create a friendly “neighborhood joint” featuring a wide selection of brunch, lunch, and dinner offerings with special attention paid to barbecue meats. The couple are still developing the menus, but diners can anticipate smoked brisket, pork, chicken, and ribs, as well as a Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich. Vegetarian selections including smoked eggplant will also be available, along with egg dishes, hamburgers on custom brioche buns, salads, and more.
“You’ll find more than just barbecue,” said Pieniazek, who is leading the project. “We’re going to have something for everybody.”
Weekend brunch will include classics like French and avocado toasts. Owners plan to weave their cherry wood-smoked meats throughout the menus without limiting themselves to a barbecue focus. The couple also plan to offer hot made-to-order cake doughnuts, which are also on the menu at Earl’s. They’re collaborating on a custom single-origin coffee with Chicago micro-roaster Metric Coffee and will feature European and local craft sodas.
The space is outfitted with rustic wood and seats between 50 - 60 and features retractable garage doors that integrates the indoor dining room with an exterior patio. Customers will be able to order coffee drinks and small bites like muffins and scones from a walk-up window on the Armitage Avenue side of the street. The couple are currently building out the space.
Though they feel confident about the restaurant, owners are open to taking cues from neighborhood residents. “We know what we want to do, but it’s a flexible living organism,” said Wnorowski. He and Pieniazek are seeking employees who are familiar with the neighborhood. The pair are engaging in a playful battle of the sexes, positioning Earl’s and Ella’s as sibling restaurants and friendly rivals. “Ella’s is going to become a better version of Earl’s,” Pieniazek joked over Wnorowski’s protests.
Stay tuned for more news as the project progresses.