RIVER NORTH — Fans of BadHappy Poutine Shop's signature dish — a formidable mound of french fries, cheese curds and gravy that originated in Quebec, Canada — used to have to trek all the way to 939 N. Orleans St. to get a mouthful.
Starting Thursday, the restaurant will add poutine to its existing delivery menu, which previously only offered its burgers and shakes.
It's perfect timing, said head chef and owner Tom Kern, because poutine is "a great wintertime food."
"It's hearty food, it's comfort food, it's something you want to curl up with in front of a movie without having to go outside," Kern said. "I think it's great. The colder it gets the busier we get."
Kern said BadHappy was hesitant to put its poutine on the road for fear its cheesy, gravy-drenched french fries would lose their crispiness in transit.
But after fielding pleading requests from regular customers who insisted their poutines made it from the restaurant to their tables in good condition, Kern, a self-described "yes man," set out to find a way to make poutine more mobile.
"It's got a very intense half-life as it is — gravy on fries, they're gonna get soggy at some point," Kern said.
So for a few weeks, Kern and his staff did trial runs: They made up poutines with different layerings of ingredients, and some toppings on the side, and carted them home after work before taste-testing.
BadHappy quickly found the sweet spot: "The cheese and toppings will be on the fries, and the gravy will be on the side, so you can pour it and the fries will still be crispy," Kern said. "We didn't want to be sending out less than high-quality fries."
That revelation, paired with a partnership with UB Delivery, a small food delivery service whose business model Kern says is closely aligned with BadHappy's, will make it possible for delivery across the Near North Side starting Thursday.
Its delivery area is bounded by the lake on the east, Halsted Street on the west, North Avenue on the north and Congress Parkway on the south.
Kern said he hopes offices can get in the habit of placing big orders a day in advance, via BadHappyPoutine@gmail.com, so the shop can prep orders before it opens at noon.
BadHappy claims to be Chicago's first poutine shop, serving the classic Canadian dish alongside a roster of gourmet burgers and shakes, many of which feature high-end and locally sourced ingredients.