A Little Italy landmark is about to go through a major change.
Rosebud, a prominent name for Italian American cuisine in Chicago, is converting its Little Italy flagship to a private event space and speakeasy-style bar. Rosebud on Taylor, the original hub of the hospitality group, closed to the public on Sunday, December 31. As of the start of 2024, the space on the edge of the Illinois Medical District is available solely for special event booking under the working name Rosebud: The Speakeasy, founder Alex Dana tells the Sun-Times. It can accommodate a wide range of party sizes, from groups of 10 to gatherings of 250. It’s similar to what Boka Restaurant Group did with its River North French restaurant, Le Select.
Despite Rosebud’s nearly 50-year tenure, business “was no longer booming,” Dana tells reporters. He points to changes in the area, including the exit of companies whose workers served up regular crowds at lunchtime, and a shrinking population in Little Italy as residents have moved to the suburbs. The area’s demographics have also shifted with restaurants serving a variety of cuisines opened along Taylor Street to serve the community near the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Originally founded in 1976 as Bocciola della Rose (“bud of the rose” in Italian), the restaurant became a near-immediate hit for its embrace of all things old school: a cozy dark wood interior, plentiful servings of chicken Vesuvio and veal piccata, and a lineup famous patrons including Frank Sinatra, Robert DeNiro, Oprah, and Gene Hackman. It also enjoyed a connection to Chicago’s oft-romanticized gangster legacy, with customers ranging from late onscreen mobster James Gandolfini to late actual mobster Joey “The Clown’” Lombardo.
The long vacant Green Dolphin Street space could go greener
The former home of infamous Bucktown nightclub Green Dolphin Street could become a cannabis dispensary, according to Block Club Chicago. California-based dispensary chain Dr. Greenthumb’s hopes to open its first Illinois location at 2200 N. Ashland Avenue and has begun the process of courting neighborhood residents, with a presentation to the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals slated for February. Given the substance at hand, a mellower vibe would be a big change for Green Dolphin Street (later renamed the Dolphin, and even later, Rio), a venue known for a history of violent altercations, culminating in the 2015 shooting deaths of two men outside the club. City officials permanently shut down the club in 2017 and the space has remained vacant ever since.
Hutch American Bistro closes after a decade in Lakeview
Casual brunch haven Hutch American Bistro is permanently closed after a decade in Lakeview, reps announced in late December on Instagram. Founded in 2013 at 3301 N. Clark Street, the restaurant balanced a family-friendly atmosphere with grown-up bottomless drink specials in a sunny dining room perched 10 minutes away from Wrigley Field. Ownership group Hutch American Concepts has overseen a spate of closures: Hutch outposts in Andersonville and River North are closed, as is Boca Loca Cantina in Andersonville (a River North location remains open), Savannah Supper Club in Roscoe Village, and Savannah Luncheonette in Bucktown.
“It was an extremely difficult decision to make,” reps write. “The last 10 years have been a whirlwind! The Cubs winning the World Series, Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup, the world shut down, riots… what a ride!”
Smoque Steak ditches its retail market for a wine bar
Meat maestro Barry Sorkin and his team at Smoque Steak are kicking off the year by converting its retail space into a wine bar in Avondale. They’ll still sell meats in vacuum-sealed bags and cocktails to go. For now, the restaurant is closed through Tuesday, January 9, and will return for dinner service the following evening, the team writes on Instagram. However, Smoque hasn’t revealed when the wine bar will debut.