A New York City-based restaurant group, creatively calling itself The Group, is bringing three of its East Coast restaurants to Downtown Chicago starting with an Italian restaurant this winter, followed by French and Japanese spots in 2023.
Olio e Più, a trattoria and enoteca, is coming this winter to 445 N. Dearborn Street in River North, followed in spring by cavernous French spot La Grande Boucherie and intimate Japanese restaurant the Omakase Room at 431 N. Dearborn Street in the former Ruth’s Chris Steak House space.
Slated for a November or December debut in Chicago, Olio e Più was founded as the Group’s first venture in 2010 in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The new River North location aims to foster a more upscale atmosphere than the New York original, says marketing manager Milena Pavlovska, and will integrate additional Mediterranean-style dishes with raw items, fine meats, and an extensive wine list. Renderings of the 300-seat restaurant show a spacious and airy design with white arched ceilings, dark wood furnishings, and sleek white subway tile, all offset by green accents and plant life.
Despite the Group’s New York roots, La Grande Boucherie’s Art Nouveau aesthetic may ring a bell for Chicago’s Carries, Mirandas, and Charlottes: the Midtown NYC location, which opened in November 2020, made a cameo in Episode 8 of And Just Like That..., the Sex and the City reboot on HBO Max. The Loop edition of the massive brasserie and steakhouse will seat at least 400 will maintain the original restaurant’s more-is-more ethos: it’s designed to evoke France’s Belle Époque period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries — an era typically associated with cultural development and an opulent aesthetic that gave birth to the Art Nouveau movement. “Life was beautiful and everything was extravagant, huge,” says Pavlovska. “Everything we do [at Le Grande Boucherie] is grandiose.”
The Group’s Japanese restaurant, the Omakase Room, will share a building with La Grande Boucherie but will otherwise bears no resemblance to its sibling. Minimalistic and intimate with 10 to 12 seats, it will adhere to the tradition of omakase with numerous courses prepared and presented by the chef directly to the customer. Operators have not yet selected an executive chef.
Founded in 2010 by entrepreneur and tech investor Emil Stefkov, the Group operates seven restaurants in New York City and is poised to unveil new venues in Miami and Washington D.C. Its restaurants have become known for their sky-high rankings on TripAdvisor (Pavlovska specifically references Olio e Più’s status on the platform). In 2019, Eater probed the Group and other hospitality businesses’ efforts to capitalize on the service and draw more diners. Stay tuned for updates on the trio of restaurants’ opening dates.