The first of three phases of Boka Restaurant Group’s Lakeview project has an opening date. GG’s Chicken Shop will debut on Tuesday, February 28 with something unusual for Boka, a company that focuses on upscale dining in neighborhoods like River North and West Loop: A ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The event, reserved for smaller communities to drum up local support, shows how unique Lakeview is to Boka’s portfolio which recently added Le Select, the hulking French brasserie that opened last month in River North.
GG’s Chicken Shop is a casual restaurant with about 20 seats with delivery and takeout. It’s primed to lure families with children. Picky eaters can choose between fried and rotisserie chicken. Wolen also added a chicken burger to the repertoire. It’s ground with chicken thigh and a little skin to keep the griddled patty juicy, Wolen says. Chicken burgers are a rarity in American restaurants and Wolen didn’t know why: “I think turkey is the king of the non-red meat burgers.”
Wolen says they wanted another non-fried entity on the menu, and it made no sense to have a beef option at their chicken restaurant.
The restaurant grew from a stall at Revival Food Hall in the Loop to a virtual restaurant run from Boka’s flagship Lincoln Park location. It served as a pandemic pivot while the government suspended indoor dining during the height of COVID in 2020.
The restaurant resides in a former Schlitz Beer tied house (an art deco etching with logo remains outside). It’s a 120-year-old building that most recently housed Southport Lanes. GG’s will take only a portion of the space as Boka also plans on opening Stephanie Izard’s relocated Little Goat Diner in the space, as well as Itoko, a new Japanese restaurant from Momotaro chef Gene Kato. Each will have separate entrances and sidewalk patio spaces. A rep says Itoko should open in early March while Little Goat should follow and open by early April.
The Southport Corridor is filled with families and restaurants have tweaked their menus to accommodate them. Crosby’s Kitchen from 4-Star Restaurant Group was among the first to have kids eat free, and the company has another family-friendly spot, Tuco & Blondie, on the strip. Wolen, a parent, also lives in Lakeview: “It’s not about competition, it’s about community,” he says.
Wolen maintains Lakeview should have more restaurants: “When you even look at the West Loop, there’s a million restaurants,” he says. “But there’s still a million people coming to them.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be special for Wolen. His mother, Geri Simon — the restaurant’s namesake — plans to attend.
Read the menu below.
GG’s Chicken Shop, 3325 N. Southport Avenue, planned for a Tuesday, February 28 opening; Itoko, planned for an early March opening; Little Goat Diner, planned for a late March or early April opening.