The Ole' Hardwood Gastro-Smokehouse is gone. Today we found out that a new concept is going to be potentially taking over the 'gastro' moniker on the 1300 block of South Wabash. News came today that one of the South Loop's older restaurants, Opera, will be shutting their doors after tonight in order to become a "Gastropubby Sports Bar":
Opera, the contemporary Chinese restaurant in the South Loop, will close after dinner service on Dec. 31. Partner Jerry Kleiner tells us it will reopen in three or four months as a yet-to-be-named "gastropubby sports bar."This is definitely an interesting change. Maybe Kleiner and crew noticed how well Flo & Santos is doing across the street and decided a change was needed. Although we like Opera and are sad to see it go, it's been evident that the place hasn't exactly been packed over the past couple of months.
We recently had a nice Friday night dinner at Opera and maybe 25-30% of the tables were occupied. Not exactly the amount of dinners a trendy restaurant would expect on a Friday night. Change is part of everything so hopefully they settle on a concept that works. It's a huge space and Kleiner definitely knows how to build an interesting space, let's hope the food lives up to the design.
Anyway, if you're like us, you're hearing "gastropub" being thrown around a lot these days. Although we thought we knew what this meant, as of late we've been less sure. Hopefully the internet and wikipedia can shed some light on this trend:
A gastropub concentrates on quality food. The name is a combination of pub and gastronomy and was coined in 1991 when David Eyre and Mike Belben took over The Eagle pub in Clerkenwell, London. The concept of a restaurant in a pub reinvigorated both pub culture and British dining, though has occasionally attracted criticism for potentially removing the character of traditional pubs.
So it sounds like it's just a focus on quality food. We like quality food, so hopefully that's what we get!
(Hat tip: RG!)