A venerable Old Town restaurant space, one that’s been dormant for nearly two years, is getting a facelift from a group of friends opening their first project in Chicago. Uproar will occupy the multilevel space that Mexican restaurant Salpicon called home for 22 years at 1252 N. Wells Street. The quirky space will have an emphasis on late-night food with bar and lounge elements.
The space should debut around the third week of October and the project’s name comes from the ownership group, Uproar Hospitality. The entity is made of four partners including Dante Deiana. Deiana is also a partner in Ohio-based Forward Hospitality Group. They’ve worked with James Beard Award winner Jonathon Sawyer, the Cleveland chef who just opened Adorn, the new restaurant inside the Four Seasons Hotel near the Mag Mile.
Forward — which counts Chicago Cubs infielder Jason Kipnis as a collaborator — had announced another project, a burger bar in Ukrainian Village called Shake-It. Deiana hopes to soon have an update on that restaurant, but for now, the priority is with Uproar. Deiana says they want the Old Town project to be Uproar’s flagship.
The bar will make use of large garage doors off Wells Street. They were left behind by the previous tenant (Optima), and now are a boon for pandemic dining with an increased air flow. Deiana has a marketing and DJ background, while working with Barstool Sports’ traveling Blackout Tour. That festival had a controversial end in Boston back in 2012.
Deiana is leaning into his music expertise to create a unique atmosphere at Uproar. He says the music program will be “the best in the city” and similar to his DJ sets. Expect a variety of sounds including Motown, to David Bowie, Guns N’ Roses, old-school hip hop, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift. Deiana also hopes for live music.
Uproar has opened up the second floor space and they plan to replace the fixed windows overlooking Wells Street next year with ones that swing out. There’s also a bar near the windows. A room in the back is unfinished and Uproar partner Scott Horwitch (he worked as general manager at River North nightclub Rockit Bar & Grill) likens the space to a ‘70s-style rec room. There’a second bar on the floor that connects with a window were a bartender could slide drinks.
There will be a pickup window for food on the first floor with dishes like crab rangoon and gravlax. The food’s by chef Jamie Fischer (Cindy’s Rooftop, S.K.Y.). Deiana says he envisions customers driving across town late night for Uproar’s food. They expect to serve food past midnight. They’ll specialize in dinner and weekend brunch to start.
Horwitch’s brother is all a partner on the project. Danny Horwitch runs Flagship Tavern & Grill in Lakeview and worked at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ barbecue spot Bub City. Veteran bar manager Rick Douglas, who continues his involvement with the ownership group behind Barcocina in Lakeview, rounds out Uproar’s crew.
Indoor dining is capped in Chicago at 40 percent. At full capacity, Uproar has room for about 100 on both floors. There’s also a 40-person sidewalk patio planned. Deiana stresses the team is taking CDC safety guidelines seriously. They want to make sure customers and staff are comfortable if they visit during the pandemic.
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Uproar, 1252 N. Wells Street, planned to open third week of October.