Pacific Standard Time, a restaurant that opened with much fanfare in 2018, is permanently closed. Paul Kahan and Donnie Madia at One Off Hospitality Group sent out a news release Friday morning that announced they’ll use the River North space to house a second location of Avec, the sleek Mediterranean restaurant and wine bar that opened in 2003 on Randolph Street.
One Off Hospitality’s announcement means that chef Perry Hendrix’s chorizo-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon will soon arrive in River North. The dish has become one off Chicago’s premier bites. According to a news release, Avec River North will open on Friday, February 12 for indoor service. Reservations for a five-course Valentine’s Day weekend meal are available on Tock. Takeout doesn’t appear to be available until February 17, but ordering is live.
Just three years ago, Pacific Standard Time gained national acclaim and was also Eater Chicago’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year. Pacific Standard gave One Off Hospitality — owners of critically acclaimed restaurants like Publican, Blackbird, and Big Star — a footprint in Downtown Chicago, something more and more important from a delivery radius perspective thanks to the challenges brought on by COVID-19.
Pacific Standard Time began as a collaboration between One Off and Underscore Hospitality, a restaurant group formed by two One Off alums — chef Erling Wu-Bower and operating partner Josh Tilden. PST was Underscore’s first endeavor, but the duo exited the operation last summer prompting One Off to shift Hendrix to River North. Underscore abruptly departed as the pandemic shook the restaurant industry, presenting unique challenges to downtown properties that rely on tourism and office workers.
Before the shuffle, One Off announced the closure of Blackbird, a 23-year-old landmark Chicago restaurant. Meanwhile, there was a renewed effort to ensure Avec’s success, as Kahan and company rolled out new takeout options like rotisserie chicken. Takeout continued at Avec as One Off analyzed financials to figure if it could sustain on carryout operations alone or, if necessary, keep some restaurants open for indoor service.
Pacific Standard Time had been closed for most of the time since the state suspended indoor dining in late October. But now could be the time for rejuvenation — last month the state reinstated indoor dining at a 25 percent capacity — or a maximum of 25 people per room.
In River North, Pacific Standard Time brought new life to a prominent downtown space that was vacant for years with a breezy California-styled dining room. Chef Wu-Bower tapped into Mediterranean and Asian cuisines for a unique menu featuring Thai-influenced chicken wings, duck and pita, and dumplings.
While nothing is predictable during the pandemic, the change was telegraphed during the summer when Hendrix made the move from Avec’s original West Loop location over to Pacific Standard Time. He will have a larger kitchen with more toys to play with in River North and continue the space’s melting pot approach with a new menu. A news release describes the offerings as having a “wider breadth of culinary inspiration” compared to Avec West Loop. Look for sea scallop crudo (Meyer lemon, caper, and couscous), a Spanish specialty — hearth-baked merluza filet (calamari, tomato, fideo pasta, and aioli), and rigatoni with braised lamb neck ragu with olives and fennel pollen. Avec’s roasted pork shoulder will be on the menu. It was also continue to use Pacific Standard’s oven for focaccia and pizza including a smoked lake fish pie with garlic cream, marinated kale, and charred lemon.
Back in West Loop, chef de cuisine Dylan Patel will continue to lead the kitchen, a role he’s held since last year. His menu will differ by focusing on North African, Middle Eastern, and Southwestern European flavors.
Check out Avec River North’s full menu below.