JP Graziano’s is a throwback, sticking out in a sea of trendy restaurants along Randolph Restaurant Row in West Loop. The 85-year-old Italian specialty shop is able to survive escalating leases as the family owns their property. That includes the former warehouse next door that extends above the sandwich spot.
Graziano’s has leased the warehouse space to two restaurants. WonFun, a Sichuan restaurant with a goofy name, closed in 2017. The Darling, a bar with burlesque performances, closed in June 2022.
But a new entry debuted last weekend. Taking its name from The Waltons, the ‘70s TV drama, Good Night John Boy opened to the public on Friday, July 21 at 905 W. Randolph Street.
This is just a taste — the opening is happening in phases, says co-owner Michael Schwartz. Right now, there’s a limited food menu, restricted to what will become their late-night and to-go menu come September. That’s when they’ll unveil the dinner menu and show off what Schwartz calls “a high-end ‘70s experience.” Schwartz mentions an LA supper club, Delilah, as inspiration. He wants to do for the ‘70s what Delilah did for the roaring ‘20s. The two-level space will feel like Eric Forman’s basement from That ‘70 Show, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
The food is steeped in nostalgia with Happy Meal-inspired nostalgic meals that come with sunglasses, yo-yos, and other trinkets. Customers can always go to McDonald’s corporate headquarters down the street if they want a toy. The food from chef Raheem Sealy includes French bread pizzas inspired by Stouffer’s (they’re using bread from West Town’s legendary D’Amato’s Bakery), buckets of fried chicken, his take on mac and cheese, and SpaghettiOs.
Saley will launch a more complete menu on September 1 with more entrees. Schwartz says they’ll start taking reservations and focus on the dinner crowd. Chicago is the third location of Good Night John Boy (Cleveland and St. Petersburg, Florida) but Schwartz says they’re tailoring the concept to the larger market. They’ll also offer “disco brunch” on weekends.
From celebrating stars Burt Reynolds and Farrah Fawcett, to offering Miller High Life in different sizes, and boozy punches in disco bowl glasses, Good Night John Boy is a tribute to roller rinks, bell bottoms, and lava lamps. One drink, called the Dirty Ashtray, is made with a 12-ounce can of High Life and covered with salt, pepper, Taijin, lime, and served with a sidecar of Jeppson’s Malört. Some drinks are served in disco ball-shaped cups — the same glasses uses at Soldier Field during Beyonce’s weekend tour stops.
Schwartz is part of Forward Hospitality, a Cleveland-based group with locations in Cleveland, Phoenix, Florida, and more. He partnered with Dante Deiana, a marketer and DJ who works with Barstool Sports (who are planning their own West Loop project). Deiana has also invested in Chicago restaurants including Uproar in Old Town and Roundhouse in Logan Square. COO Bobby Rutter is a third partner at Forward and is an attorney who represented several restaurants during the pandemic in attempting to secure insurance payments.
Stay tuned for more closer to September 1.
Good Night John Boy, 905 W. Randolph Street, open 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday; days to expand later in 2023.