It’s been a few years since restaurant and nightclub owner Billy Dec moved to Nashville, but he hasn’t abandoned his hometown. Dec continues to operate Sunda New Asian in River North, positioning it as a celebrity magnet, attracting diners like Jamie Foxx and Barbara Streisand.
But now comes news that Dec will open a second Sunda in the city’s restaurant-laden Fulton Market neighborhood. Dec will serve the same mix of Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese food at the new location, pegged for a spring or summer debut at 333 N. Green Street, occupying the ground floor space inside the headquarters of prolific Chicago developer Sterling Bay.
Other than Taste of the Philippines in Chicago’s French Market food hall, this will be the West Loop and Fulton Market’s only other restaurant for Filipino food.
Dec says the new opening will mark the next step in his bid for national expansion. Reps aren’t ready to reveal where Sunda may appear next, only divulging that Dec intends to bring the brand to multiple cities across the U.S.
Touching on cuisines from a range of Asian countries, offerings will include hits like garlic crab noodles, spicy tuna crispy rice, and sushi, plus a few new submissions from chef and partner Michael Morales.
Dec, who also operates a Sunda outpost in Nashville, is integrating lessons learned during the pandemic into the 8,400-square-foot space’s design, he told Crain’s. It’ll include open-air spaces and a longer bar than the first restaurant, as patrons have shown an increased interest in cocktails and how they’re made, and will allow room for customers looking to stop in for a quick drink or bite.
Sunda first opened 12 years ago in River North. Its debut catapulted Dec to local celebrity status and laid the groundwork for Rockit Ranch Productions, the restaurant group he co-founded with business partner Brad Young in 2004. The partners amicably split in 2018, with Young holding on to Hubbard Street nightlife pioneer Rockit Bar & Grill and Dec buying out his partners stake in both Sunda outposts, the recently revamped Underground nightclub, and Wrigleyville’s now-shuttered Rockit Burger Bar.
Dec’s enjoyed success and failures in the Chicago restaurant scene and he’s become a somewhat polarizing figure in Chicago. As a Filipino American, Sunda has taken on new importance as Asian-American voices have been amplified in recent years. The menu has been revamped with more Filipino food, reflecting the American market’s better understanding of the cuisine. That knowledge allows chefs to take more risks, offering more dishes than standbys like lumpia. Though he’s in Tennessee, Dec has also engaged with local community groups.
Sunda New Asian Fulton Market, 333 N. Green Street, Scheduled to open in spring or summer 2022.
- Billy Dec to open new Sunda in Fulton Market District [Crain’s]