Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ole Hardwood Coming to 1315 S Wabash?

Upon a recent trip to South Wabash we noticed something interesting happening at 1315 S. Wabash:
First off, something we never noticed was that there are fireplaces built into the facade of this space (look at the little black boxes under the windows). Although weird, it's not the only we noticed. More obvious was that there were some men working on replacing the awnings with some woodwork (see man on ladder).

Most of us know this restaurant space as place that couldn't sustain a business. Exposure Tapas didn't work, so then came Utopia, but that didn't last as well. As always, curious minds need to know what this meant and we went over to the men to ask what was coming. They told us a restaurant but said they "couldn't comment on the food type".

With that said, we spoke to a friend of Sloopin who led us to a Craigslist posting for open interviews. If you want a job click here, but of more interest to us here was some background on the new restaurant's concept:
Ole Hardwood is seeking experienced employees for our new restaurant in the South Loop of Chicago. We are a new concept, specializing in Texas-style cuisine in a gastropub style setting. Our menu will feature many styles of meat smoking, plank cooking, various rib flavors, and braised dishes. We use local fresh ingredients and strive for the utmost quality in our food, drinks, and service. Our restaurants are casual in nature with touches of fine dining, modern design and al fresco dining.
One of our favorite games to play about the Sloopin restaurant scene is "what type of restaurant does the Sloop need?" Although this wasn't on the list, it's definitely intriguing and something that seems unique. We thought it might be a chain, but according to some Google searches we couldn't find much, so it doesn't seem to be the case. Regardless, glad to see that something new is coming to this spot.

Although the space has had a rough go with previous tenants, we wish Old Hardwood good luck and look forward to the many styles of meat smoking. It's 6am in the morning and that's still appetizing to us!

(Hat Tip: RG!)

40 comments:

MarkChicago said...

Best news from Sloopin in months. Glad to see some restaurant/retail activity.

Jason said...

That place sounds fantastic to me. The last two tennants appeared they really didn't know what they were doing, so I have confidece in the new owners.

Also, it apears the open interviews took place last week.

Jason said...

That place sounds fantastic to me. The last two tennants appeared they really didn't know what they were doing, so I have confidece in the new owners.

Also, it apears the open interviews took place last week.

Anonymous said...

Exciting news. Sounds yummy!

Anonymous said...

I was really hoping for a Subway, but this place will do.

Anonymous said...

This is on the metromix "coming soon" section. I wonder if it's the same place...

Unnamed Mainstay Hospitality project
2011
South Loop
Mainstay owner Matthew O'Malley and Chicago Firehouse chef Kendal Duque plan to team up again for a new project. The only certain thing at this point? It'll be in the South Loop.

Celine said...

Anyone hear of any other interviews? Any opening date news? I need work!

Alexander said...

Thank you!

Alexander Carlin
General Manager
Ole' Hardwood

Alexander said...

@Celine.

Come by and fill out an app and ask for me. I will see what I can do. We have hired most of our staff though.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Sounds great -- though the name... there's already an Ole Lounge in Chicago (which BTW has the advantage of not being confused with a flooring store)

Anonymous said...

Did the owners of Utopia even try? They never even got a sign for the outside.

Anonymous said...

Was excited until I heard the group behind the dumpy Grace O'Malley's was involved. Poor food, poor service, and classless atmosphere. Talk about owners who "don't know what they're doing in the restaurant business.". O'Malley's only makes $ becuase there is zero competition in the area.

MarkChicago said...

@ 10/15 Anon

I don't believe you were once "excited"...seems unlikely.

@ Alexander

Congrats and good luck!

Alexander said...

Grace O'Malley's has no affiliation or connection with our restaurant. We are completely autonomous and nouveau. We welcome anyone to come and try a brand new concept from brand new management and owners.

Anonymous said...

No affiliation with Grace O'Malley's? This place "is going to be a Mainstay Hospitality Project, operated buy Matthew O'Malley."

How in the world is this place NOT going to be affiliated with Grace O'Malleys?

I mean, I completely understand the want/need to distance yourself from that dump - (seriously, pull the weeds out of the front door sign!) - however, if you are part of the same restaurant group, you are unfortunately affiliated. (Hint: that's why Lettuce-Entertain-You restaurants ensure that ALL of their establishments are top-notch).

Anonymous said...

And then there's the whole sleazy deal involving Park Grille, the restaurant in Millennium Park. I've tried to avoid this guy's restaurants since, which has the taxpayers essentially subsidizing it. From the Reader article linked to above: "As the Sun-Times reported, the Park District gave the restaurant a sweet deal to boot, agreeing to pick up the cost of their water, gas, and garbage collection, which together may cost taxpayers at least as much as the restaurant pays to use the space.

Even better, the grill was exempt from property taxes."

Julie

Anonymous said...

Anon, have you seen some confirmation that the UNNAMED Mainstay project is in fact Ole' Hardwood?

Anonymous said...

So Alexander or anyone who knows what they are talking about.. Just to be clear because I really hope this is a nice addition to the neighborhood. This new restaurant has no affiliation with the former owners of utopia or mainstay hospitality? I sure hope not, as I completely agree with the lack of quality and effort that is put in Grace O'Mally's and Utopia/Exposure was a disaster.

Tony II said...

Mainstay Properties: Wabash Tap - great neighborhood bar, FireHouse - very nice, Grace O'Malley's def needs to change things up (food, tv's, layout, make it more lively in the evenings). Regarding Park Grille - if you were in on the inside, you would understand how to get things done. If you have the money, open a bar/restaurant yourself. Will be glad to see Ole Hardwood open up soon !

Anonymous said...

Will welcome this place with open arms IF done right. Glad to hear that there is zero affiliation with O'Malley.

Anonymous said...

I have from a reliable source that this is from the same owners of Utopia and Exposure - think about it people - we never received a post card from the ILLC announcing a new liquor license was applied for - because its the old owners - they didn't need a new one....

Anonymous said...

This is from the same owners/management of Utopia/Exposure. Think about it people - no one received a post card from the ILLC that a new on premise liquor license was applied for - that's because they didn't need to - same people - new concept.

Anonymous said...

anon 5:18am -

That's funny you say you have reliable sources, because we heard the exact opposite. We heard it was a new guy from the East coast responsible for this new concept. We also heard they're opening this week. I guess we will see

Anonymous said...

I found a website for them. The website doesn't look to be completed yet, but I did notice that they are accepting reservations on Open Table starting this Friday.

http://www.olehardwood.com/

Anonymous said...

That is very disappointing that this place is going to be under the same owners as Utopia. Let me get this straight. Exposure is a disaster and instead of going out of business and then they re concept and become utopia. Utopia is a disaster and then "closes" only to become another concept to become a bbq place. How the hell does this place have the money to have two failed businesses and open up a new one. Mark my words. This new place will be very over priced, it will still look a lot like Utopia and the fact it is called a gastro pub will only be another excuse to over pay for below average food.

Anonymous said...

Well the usual suspects showed up to trash another new business opening in the neighborhood with conflicting accusations. I'm happy that they've already taken steps to make the exterior more attractive. If they continue in that direction and manage to stay open, I'd be delighted!

Anonymous said...

All - from what I understand, while the original "mgt" has their hands in this new venture - they have all new investors and are looking forward to their new business model. Rumor has it there is a soft opening this Thursday night and they will officially open for business at some point this weekend - haven't heard the exact day - not sure why they are being so secretive. Neighborhood marketing is a must - not mystery. Let's hope the new concept makes a go of it. Although I was no fan of the old "concepts" if the new concept is that they claim it to be I will support it.

Anonymous said...

VERY upsetting to hear that this place will be owned, operated, managed, and run by the team behind exposure/utopia/now open/grand opening. These people just DO NOT get it. Terrible concept after terrible concept.

Anonymous said...

Checked the business incorporation, and there is still a valid incorporation report for the Exposure/Utopia business, but not one for the new place, which tells me likely the original folks are involved, or they have some other LLC it is under.

MarkChicago said...

Alexander, can you confirm or deny any of this?

Anonymous said...

The fact that this place will feature "various rib flavors," unfortunately means that the same mgmnt from utopia/exposure/now open/grand opening that clearly attempted to cater to the Bronzeville/Englewood crowd in the south loop is likely behind this future failure as well. I guess it's gotta be "three strikes and you're out" for these unqualified hacks.

Anonymous said...

I love you, Grace O'Malley's. No matter what any of these other South Loopers say. Bloody Mary's - delicious, french fries - exquisite. :)

Tony II said...

There were def people sitting in Ole Hardwood yesterday around 6pm. Did anyone go for the soft opening ?

Anonymous said...

Old or new owners, it does not matter. The concept sounds nice and the sloop can use a place to get good smoked foods. I am willing to give them a chance. I will reserve my comment until I try them this weekend.

Alexander said...

Sorry guys, haven't checked on this in a few days. I understand the concerns regarding the former identities of this location. It is a burden I bear and I endeavor to overcome. I am from the east coast and new to chicago, and with me I bring a new concept to this beautiful city. Rather than dwell in the former, I would love to focus on what we are working on now which is providing great food at reasonable prices. Our quality is superb, but that will not reflect in your check. I will make sure the south loop is represented well and the neighbors will have a place to call their own. As a measure to introduce myself, a trained sommelier, I am hosting free wine tastings on Friday afternoons between 4-6pm to get to know the local faces.

I would love to introduce myself personally, and put aside all speculations with great food, great service, and great conversation. We want to make the South Loop proud to call us neighbors.

Cheers and thank you for the opportunity to let me cook for you.

Regards,
Alexander Carlin
General Manager Ole Hardwood

Anonymous said...

Well said Alexander. I hope to come check your restaurant out this weekend as well.

Ali (Motor Row) said...

Alexander - Thank you for reaching out. There was an article in the Red Eye today comparing Ole Hardwood vs Chicago Q. They edged you out by a nose, but the things they mention are very fixable. We are glad that you are here and will support you. Keep us updated on specials or special events.

Arnie said...

As I mentioned in my last comment that I would reserve my opinion until I have eaten at Ole Hardwood. This past weekend I have the pleasure to dine at Ole Hardwood. I must say this to the negative person or people who have been bashing this restaurant. You must have some kind of personal issues with the current or previous owner or management, because my experience was over the top with positivity. We had great unique foods & drinks, great service and just a truly great time. We also met Alexander the GM. He was a charm and very knowledgably about his product. I would recommend Ole Hardwood to all. For the negative comments that were posted on Sloopin by the angry writer, life is too short move on. I think Ole Hardwood is here to stay.

Anonymous said...

Yelp has 3 reviews -- 2 are meh and 1 is hilariously fake
http://www.yelp.com/biz/ole-hardwood-chicago

Anonymous said...

Check out this article on Ole' Hardwood:

http://chicagojournal.com/News/02-03-2011/Police_investigating_burned-down,_short-lived_South_Loop_BBQ