An eventful year—already

An eventful year—already

And just when we thought 2009 would be uneventful, here comes major news on the restaurant front. The news broke last week that Michael Keaveny has left his position as director of operations for Coran Capshaw’s restaurant group, which owns, in whole or in part, Blue Light Grill, Enoteca, Ten, Mas, Three Notch’d Grill, and Mono Loco. “I am moving on to do what I have always wanted to do, which is, do something on my own,” Keaveny tells us. Local commercial real estate agent and business broker Stu Rifkin has stepped in temporarily to perform Keaveny’s duties. We wish you well, Michael—keep Restaurantarama posted on your plans!

Fetching fast food

Next, in honor of the Design Annual issue, Restaurantarama wanted to pay a little homage to the artistic side of dining out. Chipotle Mexican Grill has challenged our notions of what good design and good food have to cost and to whom they are available. Apparently, no two of the almost 800 Chipotles from the Denver-based public company, are exactly alike, but all are designed with the same materials as our local shop: lots of corrugated metal treatments, exposed vents and unfinished wood in a simple, clean and open format. Each one includes an original piece of artwork by sculptor Bruce Gueswel—our local shop’s piece looks like a Mayan king holding a TV remote—and is stocked with signature wood-backed, black-metal-legged chairs, also designed by Gueswel, that look like they hail from a schoolhouse on Mars. Probably our favorite design aspect of Chipotle is the folded metal cone shape that surrounds the garbage cans. The cones have shelves for returning the red plastic baskets in which the chips and salsa are served and give instructions on how to recycle. The effect is to indicate that even our garbage should be treated carefully and with respect.


Image (and good food) is everything: Chipotle’s ingredients look
fresh and well tended in their little stainless steel buckets.

O’Neils to become…

…well, we still don’t know exactly. But we can tell you that the Irish pub on the Corner, which has been vacant for over a year now, has new tenants and a new concept coming soon. Owner Ryan Rooney, a Chicagoan who has owned bars and restaurants in the Lincoln Park/DePaul University of that city as well as around the University of Iowa tells us: “We are still a ways away from opening anything.” First, Rooney says, he had to gut the place (we are not surprised) and then found that the BAR’s oversight process took longer than expected. “I never had to go through a review process like that. It takes a month!” Rooney adds, however, that “I think the review process is a good thing. I don’t want to spend all this money to put something in and then next door to me some idiot puts in a monstrosity.” (Hey Rooney, have you seen the CVS yet?) While we may have to wait a few more weeks for further details, Rooney tells us the new place will be similar in style to the neighborhood bar/eateries in young, upscale Lincoln Park (read: not a dive bar).

Now open

And finally, two openings of note: Tara Thai at Barracks Road and Simeon Market at the old site of Brix Marketplace on Route 53.