Logan Square’s ‘90s nostalgia-soaked neighborhood sandwich shop and hang Big Kids is unveiling a true-to-character collaboration: a taco salad made with Rice-A-Roni — the century-old foodstuff known to many as the San Francisco Treat.
The salad, available in Logan Square for a limited time only, was created in partnership with the brand’s multi-city trolley tour to promote a new line of microwaveable “Heat & Eat” products.
Big Kids chef Ryan Pfeiffer, known for applying a kind of maximalist whimsy with items like the Chicago-Style Philly Chee [sic] sandwiches, says he was slightly taken aback when Rice-A-Roni reps reached out, suddenly harkening back to childhood meals out of the box while his parents worked. “I think it just goes back to my roots,” says Pfeiffer. “We try at the restaurant to encapsulate what it was like growing up in the ‘90s ... so this was kind of a no-brainer.”
In that pursuit of throwback fun, Pfeiffer has translated Rice-A-Roni through the lens of Frito pie, a staple of Little League and high school concessions across the U.S. His version, available at the restaurant through Saturday, August 13, includes beef Rice-A-Roni, Cool Ranch Doritos, slaw, and herbs.
Partnerships among chefs and big food brands aren’t unusual, and as operators continue to forge ahead through immense economic and labor challenges, the money corporations bring can speak — loudly. But as debacles at companies like Martin’s Potato Rolls show, chefs and restaurateurs who boost a brand name can also be subject to blowback. Pfeiffer, however, isn’t worried: “My wife and I make stuff like this at home for dinner all the time,” he says. “Rice-A-Roni aligned really well [with Big Kids] and I can honestly stand behind it with a clear conscience.”
A punk-tinged cocktail bar closes in River North
Good Measure, the divey-looking bar with an eclectic menu and popular DIY burger from chef Matt Troost, is permanently closed after four years in River North, according to a rep. Operated by Orbit Group, the local hospitality company also behind the recently reopened California Clipper and Italian restaurant Segnatore in Humboldt Park, Good Measure held its last service in May at 226 W. Chicago Avenue.
Inflation forces Chicago’s menu costs to balloon
Crain’s dives into the profound impact of economic inflation on Chicago’s restaurant industry, as businesses from Jewish deli institution Manny’s to Korean smash-hit Parachute are forced to raise prices to keep up. Menu costs were reportedly up 7.4 percent in May across the U.S., marking the highest year-over-year increase since 1981.
Bronzeville Winery has a new chef
Only three months after its opening, Bronzeville Winery has a new chef. Whitney McMorris is out at the busy South Side restaurant that opened in April. Ownership confirmed her departure in June, which was reiterated in Tribune critic Louisa Chu’s review. Ownership has elevated sous chef Dondee Robinson to executive chef. McMorris was an alum of the Aviary and Moto. Despite her departure, Chu reports the menu has been left virtually unchanged. Bronzeville Winery ownership were not immediately available for comment.