Owners of Rosebud plan for a late-night comfort food spot, Eatt, in River North.
Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on March 29, 2010
(Crain’s) — Rosebud Restaurants Inc. is planning a new eatery in River North that will feature fresh-made baked goods in the morning, comfort foods at lunch and dinner and a kitchen that will be open well past midnight.
The café, dubbed Eatt, is under construction and is slated to open by June at 6 W. Hubbard St., the longtime home of Vong’s Thai Kitchen, a popular Lettuce Entertain You Inc. restaurant that closed in December when its lease was up.
The concept is loosely modeled after European cafes that are open for breakfast – where diners often grab bread or pastries to go – and then cater to lunchtime, dinnertime and bar-time crowds, says Rosebud owner Alex Dana. Eatt will stay open until either 2 a.m. or 4 a.m.
The location, at the corner of Hubbard and State Street, should work well for a late-night eatery because of the numerous nightclubs and bars nearby, according to Phil Mott, a professor at Chicago-based Kendall College’s School of Hospitality Management.
“Chicago has certainly become a nightclub city, much more than it used to be,” Mr. Mott says. “You can only go to the Wieners Circle so many times.”
Rosebud, which is best known for upscale Italian restaurants and steakhouses, is looking to capitalize on the popularity of the Hubbard Street area for diners and club-goers. Mr. Dana says he also expects Eatt’s fare, items such as short ribs, hamburgers and tuna sandwiches, to play well in a difficult economy.
“It’s going to be a little higher-end comfort food with a real heavy value to the portions,” says Mr. Dana, whose Chicago-based Rosebud has 11 locations in the city and suburbs, including a Rosebud Trattoria in River North at 445 N. Dearborn St.
Mr. Dana first tested some elements of the comfort-food menu last year in west suburban Naperville, where he overhauled the menu of the Rosebud there to focus on items like hamburgers, chicken in a basket, ribs and hot dogs. The experiment lasted only about six months, though, as an outcry from the locals for the old Rosebud menu prompted Mr. Dana to reverse course.
He says the comfort food was well-received, though the family-oriented Naperville crowd was more interested in having Rosebud’s traditional Italian menu than they were in paying upwards of $8 for a burger.
“Sometimes you’re not as smart as everybody thinks you are, and you’ve got to be willing to eat a little crow,” Mr. Dana says. “The town was so caught up with our Italian culinary, they didn’t want to hear about burgers. They wanted their spaghetti back.”
That’s partly why Eatt will have its own, distinct brand separate from Rosebud, Mr. Dana says. He also thinks the River North location is well-positioned for the concept because of the tourist crowd along with nearby bars, restaurants and hotels.
“That location is so hot. There’s so much foot traffic,” he says. “There are a lot of people in the (restaurant) industry who work late and want a place to eat after work. There are all the people in their hotels. They don’t want to eat in their rooms….”