Supply chain. Labor. Omicron. No Chicago Public School classes. Opening a restaurant is never a easy, but for Chicago’s hospitality community, the difficulty has increased in recent weeks. Be that as it may, 2022 offers a chance to break free from those doldrums as there are plenty of restaurant projects to look forward to for the coming year across the city. Here are some of the more prominent upcoming restaurants set to open in 2022.
Listed in alphabetical order.
Address: 3325 N. Southport, Lakeview
Key players: Boka Restaurant Group, chef Lee Wolen
Boka, one of the city’s most decorated restaurant groups, is banking on a post-pandemic recovery with several projects, including a triple threat in Lakeview. They’ve taken over the historic Southport Lanes site and are planning three restaurants that will open in phases. The first is GG’s Chicken Shop, a spinoff of a pandemic carryout pivot that operated at Boka in Lincoln Park. Lakeview and the Southport Corridor clamors for family friendly, and roast chicken with sides seems to cater to that.
The company has yet to make a formal announcement about the other two restaurants planned inside. Ownership has stressed these venues will be distinct, don’t look for a food hall set up. Boka’s gunning for a summer opening.
Address: 4420 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, Bronzeville
Key Players: Eric Williams, Cecilia Cuff, Anika Ellison
Pandemic delays continue to alter plans for this wine bar and restaurant, something that could be a game changer for Bronzeville and the entire South Side. Wine bars are scarse south of Madison. Bronzeville Winery aims to provide a relaxed atmosphere where friends can gather and nosh on elevated bites without feeling too buttoned-up. Co-owner Eric Williams, is the proprietor of the Silver Room, a revered Hyde Park store with strong ties to the Black community.
Address: 847 N. State Street, River North
Key Players: What If Syndicate, chef Danny Grant
Maple & Ash is pricey and over the top with decadent steaks and wines. Etta is a Swiss Army Knife in Bucktown and River North, good for families and date nights. Chef Danny Grant and company are hoping their latest idea, Cafe Sophie, plugs the next niche: Every day dining. It’s a European-style cafe with a full kitchen — pastries and breakfast sandwiches with bread made on premises. Grant wants to open multiple locations, turning this cafe into a neighborhood beacon. Grant is hoping for a mid-March opening.
Address: 2853 N. Kedzie Avenue, Logan Square
Key player: Jonathan Zaragoza
Jonathan Zaragoza has been holding pop-ups to preview his new Mexican-American restaurant, but has hidden the address from much of the public. Well, a liquor license application and Google listing solved that mystery — it space that most recently housed Jam, and before that Yusho. As for when diners will get to taste treats like the Pamburguesa (Slagel Farm smash burger, “guajillo-stained” telera bun, stained white onion, American cheese, salsa especial, pickles)? It should happen soon in January. Zaragoza’s family owns the iconic Birrieria Zaragoza, slinging delectable goat tacos. Zaragoza also helmed the kitchen at now-shuttered Masa Azul in Logan Square.
Address: 504 N. Wells Street, River North
Key Players: Boka Restaurant Group, chef Daniel Rose
Boka Restaurant Group, the James Beard Award-winning company that’s worked with chefs including Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat) is making waves outside of Chicago with openings in LA and the East Coast, but they haven’t forgotten the home team. They’re taking over the former Bottled Blonde space to open a bustling French bistro with a big-time chef. Suburban Chicago native Daniel Rose has earned Michelin success in France and New York. He’ll come home to open Le Select, but maintain his other projects, including Le Coucou, the 2017 Beard winner for Best New Restaurant. Rose says he’s influenced by Chicago’s reputation as a city of industry and its architecture and will let that drive how he’ll develop his latest French menu. Boka and Rose plan for a late summer opening.
Address: 1800 W. Addison Street, North Center
Key Player: Valeria Taylor
Since 2016, Valeria Taylor’s tiny independent bakery in Roscoe Village has built a devoted following with delicious pastries, including mole croissants and churro challah, with inventive mixtures inspired by Taylor’s Mexican heritage. In June, Taylor announced a move to a new roomier space for better social distancing and to install an accessible bathroom. What she didn’t count on was her inability to secure a bank loan to pay for the move. As a last resort, she set up a GoFundMe page: her original goal had been $25,000, but the community came through and raised $26,927. Now Taylor is contending with various construction delays, but she hopes to be ready to open in the spring. — Aimee Levitt
Address: 905 W. Fulton Market, Fulton Market
Key Player: DineAmic Hospitality
The pandemic has stalled the opening of Lyra, a Greek restaurant from the owners of Bar Siena. But ownership remains excited as they’re bringing in workers from Greece to teach American staffers. The team is headlined by Athinagoras Kostakos and Alexis Zopas, two chefs who DineAmic’s team met while traveling. Wood and coal will power the solid-fuel kitchen, something that DineAmic co-founder Luke Stoioff is very stoked about.
Address: 3518 S. Halsted Street, Bridgeport
Key Players: chef Kevin Hickey, Brandon Phillips, Our Revival Chicago LLC and Baum Revision LLC.
Chef Kevin Hickey (The Duck Inn) says his menu is ready — they’ll have a section devoted to chili — when he reopens Ramova Grill inside the 90-year-old Ramova Theater that’s going through a $23 million remodel. Hickey has a fondness for the area and wants to bring back some of those food memories, including some Lithuanian flavors of yore. Expect old-school diner specials, as well. Brandon Phillips, Hickey’s long-time collaborator, is working on drinks and Hickey says Phillips is ready to serve up the cocktails that will blow concert-goers away. There’s also a mystery: a brewery has signed on to join the project. While Hickey won’t reveal a name, he does say the brewery isn’t from Chicago, but it’s a nationally known brand. Look for a late 2022 debut as construction started in October.
Key Players: Mindy Segal
Address: 1623 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Bucktown
Mindy Segal turned over a new leaf when she shuttered Mindy’s HotChocolate, as the renowned baker wanted to devote more energy toward baked goods rather than operating a full-service restaurant. She’s taking over the former Red Hen Bakery, outfitting it with more modern equipment so she can make bagels, cookies, breads, and more treats. Of course, her weekend business outside of her former restaurant continues to draw lines on Saturdays. But once her bakery opens — Segal says late February or early March — customers won’t have to wait for the weekend.
Key Players: Maryellis Bunn
Address: 435 N. Michigan Avenue, Magnificent Mile
The historic former home of the Chicago Tribune has been overtaken by developers to create a living metaphor for the state of journalism. The Museum of Ice Cream will occupy 13,544 square feet of that space, promising an experiential tour full of Instagram-worth sites. there’s a museum in New York, and though the space is light on history (something management is trying to work on), it promising some good, clean touristy fun along the Mag Mile. There might even be a Chicago-style ice cream hot dog to grab some local spotlight. Expect a summer debut.
Key Players: Oliver and Nicolas Poilevey
Address: 700 N. Sedgwick Street, River North
Brothers Oliver and Nicolas Poilevey grew up around the restaurant business as their parents owned legendary French restaurant Le Sardine and Le Bouchon. Sardine closed during the pandemic, but Le Bouchon continues to keep their customers happy in Bucktown. Oliver Poilevey says he wasn’t looking to open another French restaurant, but when the former Entente space was offered, he reconsidered. Obelix will serve French food from the perspective of the Poilevy kids, through the eyes of a Chicagoan. So while classic dishes will be on the menu, expect a more modern American twist. Look for a February opening.
Key Players: Urbanspace
Address: 233 S. Wacker Drive
After opening its first Chicago food hall in 2021 in the Loop, Urbanspace continues to work on opening its second food hall, this time inside the city’s tallest skyscraper. On the second level, there will be 12,000 square feet for vendors, including Roberta’s Pizza, to serve downtown workers and tourists. This project banks on life returning to some semblance of normalcy for travelers and office workers. Given that, Urbanspace is planning a late spring opening (pending supply chain issues).