The Loyola community will soon welcome a restaurant owned by Loyola alumnus Michael Olszewski, who owned recently-closed restaurant Grace.
Olszewski plans to open Onward, a casual, fine-dining restaurant, beneath the Hampton Inn Chicago North-Loyola Station on North Sheridan Road. This comes after the sudden closing of the high-end downtown Grace.
Grace, a three-star restaurant, closed in December following the departure of chef Curtis Duffy and general manager Michael Muser, according to Olszewski.
Olszewski said he plans to reopen a restaurant in Grace’s location in the West Loop, but the name may change. Chefs from the United States and Europe have applied for the head chef position, according to Olszewski.
Muser and Duffy didn’t respond for a statement request from The PHOENIX at the time of publication.
“We have numerous head chefs that are applying for work at Grace,” Olszewski said. “We have chefs from all over the country and Europe asking to meet with me and open up a new culinary experience there.”
Olszewski didn’t give a goal opening date for the new restaurant.
“I’m not in a rush to open it,” Olszewski said. “I want to make sure that we have the proper team so that we can provide an awesome culinary experience for everyone that comes in.”
Olszewski said the ultimate closing of Grace won’t impact the finances of Onward.
“There are two separate entities, neither one has anything to do with the other,” Olszewski said.
Olszewski said he invested $3 million in Grace, and will invest a similar amount into Onward, although he didn’t give an exact number. However, Olszewski said the atmosphere of Onward will differ from Grace.
“[Grace’s] price point and its food are for a very limited segment of the marketplace, whereas Onward is going to be welcoming to every segment of the marketplace. Anyone can come in, from students to neighbors to businesspeople, to anyone,” Olszewski said.
Onward, which started construction in September, will have a fine dining area as well as a bar showing Loyola sports, rooftop seating and an outdoor patio.
Olszewski said Onward will likely open near the end of March, although he didn’t give an exact date.
“People walk in [to Onward], they’re going to feel special,” Olszewski said. “It’s going to be a very welcoming atmosphere, but it’s going to be very beautiful at the same time.”
The space beneath the Hampton Inn will also house two other restaurants, Argo Tea and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers. Loyola Vice President of Capital Planning Mike Loftsgaarden said these restaurants, along with Onward, will successfully serve Loyola students and the Rogers Park neighborhood.
“We wanted to have something that’s good for the neighborhood and obviously something that’s good for the students as well,” Loftsgaarden said. “We were looking for tenants that would be able to help fill voids in the neighborhood for one thing, and also just be a good place for students as well.”
Argo Tea is a Chicago-based tea shop specializing in signature tea drinks, bubble tea and loose leaf tea. The chain has two popular locations near Loyola’s Water Tower Campus, so Loftsgaarden, who was involved with the final decision, said he thought that a location near the Lake Shore Campus would be successful as well.
Raising Cane’s offers a menu of chicken fingers, french fries, coleslaw, texas toast and their well-known “Cane’s sauce.” The restaurant, founded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, focuses on community engagement and plans to partner with Loyola, according to Chicagoland Marketing Advisor Anna Ball.
“We are working with Loyola for an athletic sponsorship right now and we will certainly work with campus services and residential life and any of the organizations on campus to support them,” Ball said.
Ball predicted the restaurant would be open in early March, but didn’t give an exact date.
Sophomore DJ Hagen said he thinks the new restaurants could cause students to eat off campus instead of using dining halls.
“It definitely will deter people from eating on campus if they accept Rambler Bucks,” the chemistry major said.
Various restaurants around campus, including Blaze Pizza, Metropolis Café and Flaco’s Tacos, accept Rambler Bucks as a form of payment. Loftsgaarden said the new restaurants haven’t set up the program yet, but will likely consider it.
Jenna Tuckerman, a first-year anthropology major, said she thinks commuter students will appreciate the new food options near campus.
“I think it will definitely encourage commuter students to stay on campus to eat, especially if there is a Cane’s,” Tuckerman said.
Tuckerman, who lives in Campion Residence Hall, said she expects the new restaurants to attract Campion residents due to the distance from on-campus dining.
“It’s hard sometimes to motivate yourself to go to Damen [Dining Hall] when there’s a Chipotle or now a Cane’s right up the street,” Tuckerman said.
However, Tuckerman said the new options won’t keep her from eating in the dining halls.