New York restaurateurs continue to invade Chicago, as Lure Fishbar, a long-respected member of the Big Apple culinary scene, has designs on the River North space that last housed Primehouse, the restaurant space once helmed by celebrity chef David Burke. Lure originated in New York in 2004 and ownership opened a Miami location in 2013. Co-owner John McDonald said they attract a diverse clientele, but Lure — which serves seafood, sushi, and a beloved burger that evokes West Coast chain In-N-Out Burger — is also a perpetual upscale spot for power lunches in New York’s Soho neighborhood.
Lure hopes to open the Chicago location in late April at 616 N. Rush Street, inside the former James Hotel. The space is now run by 21c Museum Hotels. Primehouse closed in 2017. Not only is Chicago just a convenient flight from New York — just like Miami — but McDonald said it’s a sophisticated dining city that will appreciate Lure.
“People get it — they appreciate quality,” he said. “The pressure is on us to execute what we do here.”
Lure has developed a tight rapport with New Yorkers over 16 years; folks were apoplectic after rumors spread that the restaurant would close. McDonald described the restaurant as a clubhouse when it opened. He hopes to establish that type of loyalty in Chicago. Lure joins recent imports from New York like The Smith and Boqueria. Soon they’ll be joined by UrbanSpace, a New York food hall company that will bring Roberta’s, a trendy Brooklyn pizzeria, to two Chicago locations.
The menu at Lure offers flexibility, McDonald said, as often guests will order a burger and slice it up to share as an appetizer. Some will just order a few pieces of maki, others may opt for items like a steamed red snapper. The raw bar is a big part of Lure, and Chicago will get the same offerings and a few tweaks. They still need to figure out vendors in the Midwest, so McDonald couldn’t share exact menu details for Chicago.
Noted design firm AvroKo is handling the decor. McDonald swears the room won’t be a carbon copy of New York and Miami. The space is a little smaller compared to those restaurants. They’ll have the regular dining room with a 10- to 12-seat sushi bar, plus room for private dining. Yes, omakase is very popularity in Chicago right now, but there’s no plans for the Japanese-style tasting menus at Lure.
Some Chicagoans may know Lure executive chef and partner Josh Capon from TV appearances. Chef John Comerford, who’s worked at House of Blues Chicago, Early Society, and Virgin Hotels Chicago, will be in charge of Lure’s Chicago kitchen. Coincidentally, he worked as a pastry chef at Primehouse back in 2006.
McDonald is founder and CEO of Mercer Street Hospitality, a New York company with restaurants like Bistrot Leo and Bowery Meat Company. He’s also founder of Tasting Table, a food-focused website. Coincidentally, again, McDonald is familiar with the restaurant’s space. He worked as a consultant for the space before the James opened in 2006.