An intimate neighborhood drinking cave is coming to Albany Park this fall. Portland native Rick Weber plans to open Bokeh, a moody cocktail haven with new American food, at 4716 N. Kedzie Avenue, in late September or early October. Weber named the restaurant for the soft blurred background in a photograph that makes it easier to focus on the subject, a tribute to his past work as a professional photographer.
Weber relocated to Chicago four years ago after selling his Portland cafe, Fourth Estate. Post-sale, he said he felt lost and missed the neighborhood venues that were “design-forward” but still offered a cozy feeling for local regulars. Weber moved to Albany Park last year and found that he kept leaving the area for drinking and dining experiences.
“I love the neighborhood and there are great places here but if I wanted to have a special night out I had to hop on the train and go somewhere else,” he said. “I wanted to do something that felt upscale but is still for the neighborhood and regulars with a service industry focus...sophisticated but not snooty.”
The 1,000 square-foot space seats just 25 — seating options will include couches and chairs for lounging, four two-top tables, and eight bar stools. The long, narrow space features exposed brick walls where Weber plans to hang pieces from local LGTBQ artists. Geometry figures largely into the design, including a hexagonal sculpture that resembles a honeycomb and round light fixtures formed from a pattern of tiny triangles.
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Finished the buildout this evening, a few details to add but here we are. Now we can start posting drinks and food. Our final inspections are almost done and we should have an opening date soon. Can’t wait! xo . . . . . #chicago #albanypark #eaterchicago #comingsoon #chicagofood #chicagobars #chicagofoodmag #bokehchicago #moody
Teal blue, golden yellow, and grey tones appear throughout the space, and Weber plans to add a few red accents too. Photographs of the developing space are available on social media. The bar will be utterly devoid of TVs, and Weber hopes the atmosphere will evoke a pre-internet era when drinkers would chat or read the paper instead of focusing on their phones. He also plans to welcome nightly DJs spinning rare or “unique” vinyl that surprises and delights diners.
Weber is still developing the drink and food menus, but provided a few clues as to what customers can expect. The bar will be largely cocktail-focused with a blend of classic drinks and signature offerings, but a few wine and draft beer selections will also be available. The cocktail list will feature seasonal and rotating options, and Weber promised autumn-inspired “tummy-warmers” for the fall opening.
Bokeh will also offer “elevated” bar snacks and tapas-style small plates with a seasonal bent. Weber describes himself as a “grazer” who likes to munch as he drinks, so diners can anticipate a choice of boards bearing items like charcuterie, cheese, and pickles. Kitchen staff will make as many items as possible in-house: “If you order bread and butter at Bokeh, the bread is baked here and we’re churning the butter,” Weber said.
Bokeh is slated to open in Albany Park this fall. Stay tuned for more news as the project progresses.