Nico Osteria, the sleek seafood-focused Italian restaurant inside the Thompson Chicago hotel will temporarily close its dining room and end dinner service until after the New Year. This marks another change for the Gold Coast restaurant across from Mariano Park. The closure is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staff will offer both outdoor and limited indoor dining until October 31, according to general manager Paul Cardona. On November 4, the team will utilize the hotel lobby’s bar and serve a limited menu of small plates, cocktails, and wines by the glass. Executive chef Tim Graham (Twain) is working on rotating carryout menus.
There will be layoffs, but Cardona says he doesn’t yet know how many. “We’re going to need to make adjustments on the new model,” he says. “I wish I had a crystal ball, but I don’t. We’re just looking forward to returning to the great Chicago dining scene we used to have.”
Much like other spots that are temporarily closing for the winter, Nico doesn’t yet have an exact reopening date. Compatriots include Michelin-starred restaurant Elske in the West Loop, which has temporarily closed until early 2021, and Grant Park Bistro inside the Hotel Essex, which is shuttered until spring 2021. Restaurants inside hotels, especially downtown, face additional challenges as the coronavirus has crushed convention business and stemmed the flow of visitors. Meanwhile, across the street from Nico, S.K.Y. chef Stephen Gillanders has recently taken over the kitchen at Somerset inside the Viceroy Hotel. In July, chef Lee Wolen (Boka) and Boka Restaurant Group left the property and transferred management to Viceroy Hotel Group and Chicago real estate company Convexity Properties.
First opened in 2013, Nico was one of the most prized restaurants in One Off Hospitality Group’s (Publican, Big Star, Avec) portfolio until September 2018, when the group announced that it would withdraw and hand over management to the hotel. It was first helmed by chef Erling Wu-Bower (Avec, Pacific Standard Time), who recently left One Off himself, and then lead by chef Bill Montagne (Snaggletooth).
And in other news...
— Reservations for Alinea’s residency at the Ace Hotel Chicago are live. Chicago’s only three-Michelin-star restaurant has moved from the Fulton Market rooftop, where it spent the summer, to the former City Mouse space down the street. Reservations range from $235 to $295 per person, from November 4 through December 30. Alinea’s Nick Kokonas says service will be indoors. The space, under normal circumstances, has capacity for about 200; the city has mandated a 40-percent maximum capacity for indoor dining during COVID-19. Kokonas says they’ll seat around 50 with at least eight feet between tables. Alinea has access to other spaces within the hotel, but Kokonas writes that the city’s new coronavirus guidelines issued on Thursday (including forcing restaurants to cease dining room service by 10 p.m.) prevent them from taking advantage.
Disclosure: Eater hosts an event series in partnership with Ace Hotel.
— The team at West Loop restaurant and music venue All Rise Brewing Co. is paying tribute to the memory of Pierre Kezdy, the bass guitarist for iconic Chicago punk band Naked Raygun and longtime Evanston resident who died Friday at 58 in a suburban Glenview hospice. He had cancer, according to the Sun-Times. Fans and supporters can try a “meatloaf sandwich burger” topped with a mashed potato croquette, stout gravy, and balsamic ketchup, with proceeds going to Kezdy’s family. Formerly known as the Cobra Lounge, “All Rise” takes its name from a Naked Raygun album, and ownership has strong ties to (usually) annual punk festival Riot Fest.
— Eris Brewery & Cider House aims to foster a little friendly competition with its second brewery contest on November 14, according to a rep. At “Eris Eruption Vegan Vengeance,” ticket holders can compare bites of cauliflower, fries, beers and ciders from Sauganash’s Alarmist Brewing, Old Irving Brewing Co., Eris, and an as-yet-unnamed contender in a blind tasting, and rank their favorites. Patrons will also get a mixed four pack of beer and cider (one from each brewery) to take home. The event includes two sessions — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. — and winners will be announced at the end of each. Tickets are $65.
— Korean taqueria Del Seoul in Lincoln Park on Tuesday launched the Seoul Food Market, a retail operation with grab-and-go items as well as food to reheat and serve, according to co-owner Pete Jeon. He promises dishes such as pork tonkatsu, beef bulgogi, vegetable japchae, and chicken ginger dumplings, with new menu additions planned for the future.
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We’re excited! Coming this week is our “Seoul Food Market!” A collection of top notch grab and go / heat and serve items. This week we will feature Pork tonkatsu, beef bulgogi, spicy pork stir-fry, chicken ginger dumplings, fire chicken and veggie Japchae. New additions coming soon! (Think stews, braised ribs, etc.). If you live in the hood, we’ve got you covered this winter! #delseoul #lincolnparkchicago #lincolnpark #lakeviewchicago #chicagofood #koreanfood #yum #nomnom #chicagofoodmag #eaterchicago #food
— A partner at one of Chicago’s most prominent restaurant groups is coping with devastating layoffs brought on by the pandemic by rescuing animals at risk of being euthanized, according to the Today Show’s website. Eduard Seitan, a partner at One Off Hospitality (the Publican, Big Star) is using his old plane — a military-style number that he says cost less than most cars — to transport cats and dogs to foster families and no-kill rescue organizations across the country. The flights are coordinated by Pilots N Paws, a nonprofit that connects volunteer pilots to animals who have been abused or are in danger from natural disasters. One Off has also created its own program, #WeFoster, to help local shelters.
Update: This story has been changed to show that Nico Osteria’s last day of dinner service is October 31.