For Cafe Marie-Jeanne fans, there’s now some good news. The restaurant’s former chef, who goes by Bunny (they co-owned the cafe with Val Szafranski) is holding a pop-up at a popular Lakeview bar.
The pop-up, called Uncle Bunny’s, takes place Sunday, July 17, and Monday, July 18, at the Long Room. Bunny tells Eater they’ll be cooking up the classic CMJ burger and an Italian beef (in both beef and veggie variations). They’ll also serve a clarified milk punch “that tastes like the juiciest, sexiest, most neon creamsicle ever.”
It’s been almost two years since Cafe Marie-Jeanne, the casual French-style all-day restaurant, closed in Humboldt Park, but Chicago hasn’t forgotten. On any given day while strolling through a local farmers market or grabbing a drink at a bar, it’s not an unusual sight for a visitor to spot a patron sporting a CMJ t-shirt, showing their love for the five-year-old restaurant that sat on the northeast corner of California and Augusta. The restaurant’s last day drew long lines down the street and was particularly a favorite among chefs and cooks. After CMJ closed in November 2020, a new tenant remodeled the space and opened an Italian restaurant, Segnatore, in its place.
Bunny is hopeful that CMJ’s fans will support the endeavor so they can hold another pop-up in August. After Cafe Marie-Jeanne closed, Bunny left Chicago and moved to Missouri to live with their mother. But gardening in the Show Me State can only hold one’s attention for so long. Bunny is now hopeful to move back to Chicago by the fall.
The cuisine at Cafe Marie-Jeanne pandered to Chicagoans with stalwarts like its burger and a “Chicago-style” lobster roll inspired by the classic Vienna Beef hot dog. But it also tested locals, luring them toward French delicacies like calf brains and foie gras. The duck frites were also a popular item. The pop-up at the Long Room won’t offer those, but rib and chicken frites are available.
Does that pop-up mean fans should expect a new restaurant? That’s up in the air.
“I’m still really enjoying the life that not owning a restaurant affords me,” Bunny says. “But I suppose I should never say never. For now I just want to find work and move back and go to all the cute, fun, yummy restaurants that Chicago has to offer.”
Take a look at the pop-up’s menu below.
Uncle Bunny’s Pop-Up, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday, July 17, and Monday, July 18, at the Long Room, 1612 W. Irving Park Road.