Artist's Cafe coming to South Wabash
Iconic restaurant to open a new outpost at Roosevelt next to Five Guys, Bongo Room
06/20/2012 10:00 PM
Artist’s Café, the South Michigan Avenue staple with an iconic sign that has occupied a Fine Arts Building storefront since 1961, is opening another outlet a bit deeper into the South Loop.
Irene Makris, a member of the family that has owned the Artist’s Café since it opened, said they’re hoping to open in a few weeks just north of the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue, the same building as the soon-to-open Five Guys at 1146 S. Wabash Ave.
“We’ve had that piece of property for about 30 years, and now is the time,” Makris said. “The neighborhood’s gotten very nice, and it’s very secure now.”
It’s not the first time the family has started a new restaurant. At one time, she said, they had six restaurants spread across the Chicago area, from a pancake house to a truck stop. But for the last 15 or 20 years, Artist’s Café has been their only business.
“We just decided to calm down a little bit,” Makris said. “The kids were small and we needed to spend some family time.”
When they decided to expand again, it seemed natural to keep the Artist’s Café name, she said — their brand recognition is too strong to stray.
“This is what we love. We have an attachment to this one,” she said. “We have students and we have a lot of people who go to the museums and the symphony and the Auditorium [Theater].”
The new restaurant will have about 45 seats, she said, and will feature the restaurant’s menu on large LCD screens. The menu will vary a little as well, she said.
“This is a location where there’s lots of kids from Columbia and a few other schools, so we want to really cater to the young kids. We’ve got some wraps, some breakfast items and some really nice lunch items.”
They decided they couldn’t fill the whole space, though, so they invited Five Guys in next door to fill up the rest of it.
“We decided it was just too big,” Makris said. “They’re a good tenant — they have a good reputation on the street.”
And, of course, they’ll replicate their iconic sign from the Fine Arts Building. There will be an LED version of it on the front and the back of the new building, she said.
They’re still about three to four weeks away from opening, she said, because they had a bit of a problem with the restaurant’s flooring and needed to replace it. But she’s bullish on the new restaurant’s prospects.
“It’s like a jewel box,” she said. “After being in the restaurant [business] for so many years, this one is going to be really the best.”