LINCOLN PARK — The owner of the Orange chain of brunch restaurants recently purchased the former Webster Street Cafe space in Lincoln Park and hopes to turn it into a "neighborhood restaurant."
Andrew Klemen, whose chain of Orange brunch restaurants has dwindled from six locations to two, purchased the space in November for more than $2.3 million and is seeking zoning approval for the new restaurant at 1119 W. Webster Ave.
The working name of the proposed restaurant is Range, which would feature free range and grass-fed meats, artisanal cheese, flatbreads, a seasonal menu and craft beers during lunch and dinner hours, according to Klemen's lawyer Peter Miller.
At a meeting to discuss a zoning amendment to allow the restaurant to operate, Miller assured a group of neighborhood residents the new business would fit into the neighborhood, unlike previous restaurants that were noisy and upset homeowners.
The restaurant would be the second one on the block, joining craft beer haven Local Option.
Miller said the menu would be "moderately" priced. He said Klemen hopes to attract a neighborhood crowd.
Webster Street Cafe closed about three months after it opened. A previous restaurant, the more upscale Kith & Kin, served high-end traditional American cuisine.
Neighbors at the zoning meeting Monday night held by Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) voiced concerns that the restaurant would be noisy and would make parking in the neighborhood a hassle, but most were optimistic about the new venture.
Some were concerned that the restaurant would follow the path of State Restaurant, just a few blocks east on Webster, which is packed with young drinkers late into the night on a regular basis.
"The neighbors were all opposed to it originally, and now it's really a bar," said Allan Mellis, a neighborhood activist and director of the Wrightwood Neighbors Association. "It sounds like [Klemen] is putting in a nice restaurant."
Another concern with neighbors was the possibility of a sidewalk cafe, which was previously prohibited, but Smith reassured them that if the owner decides to apply, there would be a second neighborhood meeting.
"We are not after a tavern license," Miller said. "[Klemen] has absolutely no desire to be in that business."