After more than a year of preparation, Loyola alum, Mike Olszewski, opened Onward Chicago — a casual fine-dining restaurant — near Lake Shore Campus.
Onward opened on Friday, Nov. 23. It’s located at 6580 North Sheridan Road beneath the Hampton Inn on North Sheridan Road.
The restaurant has a dining area, a private dining room and a bar, according to Olszewski, class of ‘86. The bar area will also serve food, Olszewski said. According to a Facebook post by Onward, executive chef Patrick Russ’ menu features “a fun + playful take on new American dining.”
The restaurant was planned to open in March 2018 and then was postponed to August, The Phoenix previously reported. But Olszewski said he was demanding and meticulous while working on the restaurant.
“I want to make this clear, there was no delay,” Olszewski said. “I’m going open up the restaurant when I feel it’s ready and it’s beautiful as it can be. And I’m not going to put anything out to the public until I’m a hundred percent happy.”
As a Loyola graduate, Olszewski said he’s honored to be able to partner with Loyola and cater to students. He said he’s always loved Rogers Park and the Loyola community. So when the opportunity arose, he decided to open the restaurant.
“There was an opportunity brought to me that said Loyola is looking for a restaurant and there’s a need for a nice restaurant up there,” Olszewski said.
Natalie McGiffert, a 21-year-old Loyola junior, said she heard about Onward from her roommate, who’s going to be a waitress there.
“I think me being newly 21, it’s going to be a nice place to go get dinner and if my parents come to town, go with them,” the psychology major said.
Marin Clapper, an 18-year-old first-year studying journalism, said she thinks students will go for special occasions. She said it also stands out because it’s not a chain restaurant and offers something different than the Damen Student Center’s dining hall.
“I think there’s a lot of chains around so having a different option that you can go to when you don’t want to have Damen Dining, it’ll be good,” Clapper said.
Alrashidi Mohammed, a 25-year-old junior, thinks the opening of Onward is good for the community because it adds more diversity to the area.
“[Rogers Park is] kind of becoming a more cosmopolitan area, more diverse,” the digital media major said. “So you will have so different types of food, there’s Middle Eastern, there’s a bar, there’s Chipotle.”
Christina Conroy, a 21-year-old senior, said she thinks Onward will “up the experience” of living in Rogers Park for residents, but she also thinks it needs to be flexible in order to attract students.
“Deals attract students, promotions attract students,” the chemistry major said.
Onward doesn’t accept Rambler Bucks, a form of payment used by Loyola’s on- and off-campus partners.
Since their opening, Olszewski said the restaurant has had visitors “all the way out from northwest suburbs” who said they would recommend the restaurant to their friends and family.