One of Chicago’s largest restaurant groups, Land & Sea Dept., which includes Parson’s Chicken & Fish, Lonesome Rose, and the main restaurant inside the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel (Cherry Circle Room) has a new person in charge of its culinary operations. Dan Snowden, last seen steering the ship at Heisler Hospitality, where he served as executive chef at veggie-focused Bad Hunter and helping to launch Pizza Lobo, is now Land & Sea’s culinary director.
Snowden, a 2012 Eater Young Gun while he worked at Publican, succeeds Maxwell Robbins, who earlier this year took the same post at the city’s biggest restaurant company, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. That left an opportunity for Snowden, who’s known Land & Sea co-founder Pete Toalson for years. Snowden says he’s held an admiration for the company, especially how it’s handled pandemic challenges. He’s a longtime fan: “I’ve been going to Parson’s since 2013,” Snowden says.
Beyond the local restaurants, Snowden will also help shape menus at the company’s restaurants in Austin, Texas and Nashville. He’s already been working with Fred Noinaj, 2016 Young Gun semifinalist, Fred Noinaj. Noinaj helped helm the kitchen at Lost Lake, the Logan Square bar that closed in February. Earlier this year, he was named executive chef of the Cherry Circle Room off Michigan Avenue: “He’s really flexing on the menu,” Snowden says. “I’m excited.”
As Snowden draws up a blueprint to how he’ll support Noinaj and Land & Sea’s other chefs, he knows some things are sacred. No one’s going to mess with Parson’s negroni slushies or, at least during this period of mourning, take Lonesome Rose’s version of the Choco Taco off the menu. He does admit that the pandemic has permanently changed some customer behavior. The customers who were packing bars before 2020 are older and drinking less. More folks are ordering takeout and the cost of nearly everything is increasing.
One way to adapt is to find new customers. Snowden’s not saying the suburbs are the future, but there are opportunities, such as pop-ups, where Land & Sea could connect with customers outside of Chicago. But with empty spaces, like Lost Lake, available, the suburbs aren’t the focus. Snowden acted coy, and while he didn’t specify locations, he did say new projects are in the works: “There’s some spaces in Chicago and some areas that we haven’t expanded into yet.”
Be on the lookout for some Land & Sea news in the coming months.