Roots, from the ground up

Scott Weiner, co-owner of The Fifty/50 Restaurant at 2047 W. Division St., describes the restaurants he and partner Greg Mohr are developing at 1916-24 W. Chicago Ave. In a Jan. 3 vote, East Village Association members will advise Ald. Joe Moreno on support of the plan.

By Scott Weiner
 

Roots Handmade Pizza 

Roots Handmade Pizza is a concept based on food from restaurants that have become institutions or icons in Greg Mohr’s hometown area, the Quad Cities. The main focus of the food concept will be hand-tossed pizza.

In addition to being made from fresh, high-quality ingredients, what sets this pizza apart from others is a unique spice blend and dough texture. Everything from the pizza sauce to the sausage will be made in house. We will make homemade mozzarella, fresh pastas and numerous specialty sausages, as well as feature great salads.

From the dessert spectrum, we will be serving homemade organic ice cream and a plethora of organic desserts, which will all be made next door at Bleeding Heart Bakery. Homemade root beer and cream soda, a.k.a. Roots Beer, will round out our menu.

Roots Handmade Pizza will be designed in a way that makes the food part of the show. There will be an open kitchen with slanted mirrors on the ceiling to add perspective to the vibrant ingredients and art of making great pizza. Along with great food, there will be 16 Midwestern beers on draft and a full bar.

We will be giving the 100-year-old building and adjoining building a complete facelift, while preserving and restoring the fa¸ades. There will be sidewalk café seating along the Winchester side of the building and the street level of the building will have an open-air feel.

Construction on this building alone will be bringing in more than 30 jobs to the area and we are investing a substantial amount of money in the restoration of this 10,000-square-foot building, which has been an eyesore on Chicago Avenue for years. We will seek LEED certification along with the bakery next door. Upon opening there will be an anticipated 45 to 55 employees working at Roots, which is the current level of employment at Fifty/50.

Bleeding Heart Bakery & Café

Bleeding Heart Bakery and Café technically will encompass several different aspects in its overall bakery and café concept.

The retail menu for the bakery counter includes cupcakes, brownies, pastries, croissants, bagels and other organic and sometimes vegan-friendly products. We will be baking artisan fresh bread, making doughnuts to order, and even making fresh artisan ice cream. Everything we serve will be organic.

Along with retail and wholesale baking, we will feature a complete and unique breakfast that will rival any other operation in Chicago. In essence, as Bleeding Heart Bakery owners Vinny and Michelle Garcia have begun to receive national attention for their abilities, we are building a state-of-the art, all things baking facility for them to showcase their talents.

The bakery will also be designed to give guests a completely unobstructed view of the baking industry. When guests walk in to the bakery they will walk into an actual bakery and not a retail space with a bakery hidden behind brick walls.

Like next door, we will be investing a substantial amount of money into the restoration of this 8,500-square-foot building. As there is no sidewalk café for the bakery, we are also hoping to bring a rooftop garden and café to the neighborhood. We believe this enclosed space over Chicago Avenue will bring a great buzz to Chicago avenue, a street that we all hope to see grow and flourish.

Along with construction jobs, Bleeding Heart Bakery will bring about 50 jobs to the neighborhood. It will be a green project with LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification. There are currently a pilot and talks with Food Network and TLC for a documentary on aspects of this project and this business.

All the managing partners of these business are longtime residents of the area and a either have been or are current business owners in this area. Both businesses will own and operate the real estate in which they are located, and we hope to be here for a long time.

We hope everyone is as excited as we are developing 15,000 square feet of developed retail space on Chicago Avenue just a block down from Chicago Bowl, which is developing even more retail space on this growing street. We expect both projects to bring a lot of money, jobs and new visitors into our neighborhood.

We are seeking the support of EVA for the following aspects:

  • Zoning change on 1916 W. Chicago (Bleeding Heart Bakery) to remove the RT-4 designation. It is currently zoned as both B3-2 and RT-4, an anomaly.

  • Special use permit for the rooftop deck above 1916 W. Chicago.

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