Lure Fishbar, a successful group of New York restaurants, will open its first Chicago location on Tuesday, June 15 next to the 21c Museum Hotel Chicago. Lure announced its pending arrival in February 2020, and planned to open in April 2020. But founder John McDonald held off due to the pandemic, and as Chicago’s restaurants are back at full capacity he’s finally ready to debut at 616 N. Rush Street.
Lure is known for an energetic vibe, the type of atmosphere that Chicagoans experienced over the weekend for the first time since March 2020. McDonald says he didn’t want to introduce Chicago to a “watered-down version” with capacity limits and social distancing.
“We didn’t want to open until the market was 100 percent ready,” says McDonald.
The restaurant resides in the former David Burke’s Primehouse and Lure brought in AvroKo to redesign the 262-seat space. McDonald’s team opened the first Lure in 2004 in New York, and it became a happy hour destination for its sushi and a notable burger. Many times groups will slice up the burger for a table to supplement a meal as an appetizer, McDonald says. That communal way of dining can only work if customers are comfortable, something the pandemic prevented.
While Chicago saw a surge in high-priced omakase sushi restaurants in 2019, Lure positions itself as “a restaurant you can dine at frequently.” Beyond the sushi, there’s the burger and steaks from Creekstone Farms. There’s also plenty of raw bar offerings including oysters. Sourcing seafood isn’t a problem for Chicago, as McDonald says they’ll utilize the same methods other big-name sushi shops do, including Robert DeNiro’s Nobu Chicago, which opened last year in West Loop.
The delay didn’t do much to alter the project, McDonald says — the Chicago staff had an opportunity to visit New York and observe service in the Big Apple. Now armed with experience, they’re ready to expand Lure’s empire to Chicago. McDonald says he’s a bit anxious about opening in Chicago. The pace of life in New York is fast, but it makes customers a little bit more forgiving for service miscues. In Chicago, McDonald says there’s a demand for a “higher level of service and hospitality.”
On Tuesday, Chicago gets to see if his staff is ready for the challenge. Look at the menu below.