New Chicago restaurants that opened in fall 2021 despite COVID


Staff issues are the biggest hurdle for restaurateurs trying to execute their plans, and that includes opening new establishments, says Mark Brandau, analyst at market research firm Datassential.

In Chicago, about 110 restaurants opened in the last four months of the year, according to Datassential. During the same period in 2019, 465 restaurants opened.

Closures are also in place. About 280 Chicago restaurants closed permanently in the last quarter. In 2019, only 23 closed during the same period.

Restaurants that opened at the end of 2021 were greeted with omicron, causing many to close temporarily just before Christmas. The city has a new rule in place requiring them to check vaccination cards or negative COVID tests, and none of the workforce issues are expected to ease anytime soon.

Still, operators who have opened new restaurants are optimistic. Throughout the pandemic, optimists have spoken of the opportunities that would arise as a result of pandemic shutdowns. These are starting to show up.

Below are nine vibrant Chicago restaurants that opened in the fall. Among them is an Italian spot of two industry veterans who were laid off from their jobs at a restaurant in New York City in 2020. There is also a story of new life in a space vacated by a beloved bistro. who did not survive COVID. Pop-up restaurants find permanent homes.

Hiccups are normal for operators now. What matters, they say, is keeping the pipeline moving. In fact, as Trevor Teich, chef and owner of Claudia, said: “Does a restaurant ever open on time?

A man
1742 W. Division St.

Aman serves cuisine with ‘a heavy dose of South Indian flavor’, offering a tasting menu in the evening and a more relaxed atmosphere during the day. The five-course vegetarian tasting menu is $ 65 per person, and BYOB, according to Tock. The chef, Zubair Mohajir, notes on his website that his palace was influenced by his childhood in Qatar, where his Indian parents were expatriates. He has worked at the Pump Room in Chicago, the Michelin-starred Bouchon in California, and the Gaggan, a now closed restaurant in Bangkok.

Brasserie Armitage
1000 W. Armitage Ave.

This Lincoln Park pub is owned by Hogsalt Hospitality, the owners of the famous burger restaurant Au Cheval. The theme is 1920s London, and the menu ranges from hearty pub food like pot pies to Indian dishes like chicken tikka masala. The vibe is decidedly comfortable, with oversized leather armchairs beside the fireplaces, large cabins, and hand-carved woodwork.

400 E. Randolph St.

The name of this Italian restaurant will be familiar to longtime Chicago-area diners: Owner Joe Carlucci opened his first namesake restaurant in 1984 on Halsted Street and Webster Avenue. Carlucci has since owned restaurants throughout town and its suburbs, but this new location in the East Loop neighborhood is now his only place in town. Located on the ground floor of a condo building, the restaurant is open six days a week for dinner only. Carlucci plans to add a seventh day and weekend brunch this spring. First, he is preparing for a delivery service to surrounding buildings in the Lakeshore East development. These residents largely “don’t like to cook,” says Carlucci. “They like to go out or have food delivered. “

1952 avenue N. Damen.

Teich first launched Claudia as a pop-up in 2013, so he already had an following when the restaurant opened at his Bucktown home in October. Teich has Michelin-starred chops, having previously worked in the now closed L20, Acadia and Nomi seafood restaurant. Claudia’s guests can reserve an eight- to 10-course dinner for $ 225 per person or a 10- to 15-course chef’s tasting menu for $ 265 per person. Food and wine or cocktail pairings are available for the two three-hour experiences. The bar offers a French-inspired à la carte menu. Teich says gastronomy is back. “It’s gastronomy, revenge,” he says.

1202 West Grand Ave.

Chefs Ian Rusnak and Eric Safin were both working for large restaurant companies in New York City when the pandemic hit. After the two friends were made redundant, they started making pop-ups and private dinners for the people in their homes. They would offer three options: Italian-American, classic French bistro, and a steakhouse-style menu. “Everyone has always been drawn to Italian,” says Rusnak. When they decided to open a permanent restaurant in Chicago, the Italian concept won. Elina’s is named after Safin’s mother and serves classics such as homemade pasta and squid. Rusnak and Safin do all the cooking. “We are not here to try to do something that no one has ever heard of,” Rusnak said. “We wanted to create something that people want to come back to. “

500 Clark Street North

This underground cocktail bar is one of five establishments by Michelin-starred chef and humanitarian José Andrés that opened in Chicago in 2021. Pigtail is located under the Spanish tapas restaurant Jaleo in River North. The first half of the Pigtail name is a nod to the Spanish jamón, or ham, which dominates the menu. The second half is for the cocktail. The selection here includes twists on Spanish favorites, as well as signature options that feature even more ham.

130 E. Randolph St.

Rosebud Restaurants’ ninth location replaced Tavern on the Park, near the intersection of Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue. It opened on December 2 and has three floors. The first has a trattoria menu, with pasta and other specials. The second floor offers white tablecloths, steaks, etc. The third, the rooftop, will open its doors this spring, with a bar and lighter dishes. Rosebud founder Alex Dana was won over by the busy location. “When I get on that rooftop and look south at Michigan Avenue… it’s beyond anything I’ve ever seen,” he says. “The region is beautiful. With food, Dana aims for consistency with the other Rosebud locations. The company has a commissary in Lakeview where workers prepare the pasta and desserts served in its restaurants.

1001 N. California Ave.

Italian restaurant Segnatore replaced Café Marie-Jeanne, a French restaurant that closed at the end of 2020. Since CMJ was so popular, especially among workers in the restaurant industry, the owner of Segnatore, Orbit Group, “wanted to be very intentional” with what replaced it, says beverage manager Kristina. Magro. The result, says Magro, is an Italian restaurant that evokes the “same feeling, just serving you pasta instead of duck livers.” Segnatore is named for community healers in Italian folklore. The wine list features women producers from Italy, and the cocktails are inspired by Italian drinks and local spirits. Orbit Group also operates Good Measure, a bar and restaurant in the Near North district, and plans to reopen California Clipper, a bar and concert venue across from Segnatore which also closed last year.

Sushi shop
1244 N. Dearborn Drive

One of the latest installments from a New York-based company that is opening sushi restaurants inside hotels, Sushi Boutique is located in the lobby of the Claridge House in the Gold Coast neighborhood. It’s the sister of the omakase Sushi Suite 202 sushi restaurant, which is in a 750-square-foot suite at the Lincoln Hotel. Sushi Boutique opened in October and offers sushi and cocktails.


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