ROSCOE VILLAGE — You won't mistake Enoch Simpson for his older brother, Caleb. Not by looks, anyway. Enoch, a chef, is tall and baby-faced with blondish hair. Caleb, a carpenter, has a shaved head and beard.
But as they prepare to open their restaurant, Endgrain, the two are acting a lot alike.
Caleb, 34, has learned how to make the doughnuts his younger brother is known for. And Enoch, 30, can build a table as if he's been doing it, like Caleb, for years.
Endgrain, opening the first week of June at 1851 W. Addison St., has the soft-spoken brothers' stamp all over it, from the chairs, tables and bar they built from reclaimed wood to those doughnuts.
Food will be served from morning to night — four types of doughnuts daily, starting at 7 a.m. until they run out; brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (biscuit sandwiches, an English breakfast plate); all-day noshes, including hand pies, pickled eggs and more biscuit sandwiches; and dinner specials such as lake trout with polenta and sunchokes and smoked chicken pot pie. Few dishes will cost more than $20.
Once they get the liquor license, they'll add a "bourbon-heavy" drink menu with plenty of local beers on tap.
The casual American fare reflects Enoch's well-rounded kitchen experience. He has cooked on the line at the upscale vegetarian restaurant Green Zebra in West Town and at Scylla, Stephanie Izard's pre-"Top Chef" Bucktown spot, and was most recently Izard's butcher at Girl & the Goat on West Randolph.
But he's most known for doughnuts.
Enoch's doughnut-making "obsession" began while working mornings as a butcher sous chef at Nightwood in Pilsen. The doughnuts were meant for staff's mouths only, but they ended up on the brunch menu and then took off. The orbs of dough gained fans, a Facebook page and an award, even after Simpson left Nightwood in 2010 for Girl & the Goat.
Caleb Simpson, meanwhile, was living in their hometown of Columbia, Mo., and dating a woman in Chicago.
"I wanted him to do a doughnut shop so I could move up here," Caleb said.
"Everyone wanted a doughnut shop," Enoch said.
They made the leap. Caleb moved to Chicago and married his girlfriend. Last year, the Simpsons settled on the space at Addison and Wolcott, and their idea for a doughnut shop morphed into Endgrain.
The restaurant is an extended family affair. Caleb's wife will wait tables and Enoch's wife will curate local artists' works that hang on the walls in the bright, airy space. The first featured artist is Beth Pearlman, who is married to sous chef Michael Pearlman. General manager Doug Hansen will supply the restaurant with some vegetables from his Wisconsin farm.
Designer Kevin Heisner, whom the brothers consider "a big brother," helped with the wood-focused design, which revolves around a 25-seat bar, painstakingly crafted of thousands of end pieces of salvaged wood, and a wall facing the entrance. The wall, Enoch's idea, is a "permanent art piece" meant to resemble a woodbin but also a nod to ingredients in a kitchen, he said.
For levity, Heisner lent them his stuffed wild boar head, one of the room's two taxidermied creatures; the white-tailed buck above the bar belongs to their attorney.
Working together has been relatively painless, the brothers said. But they have their moments. Caleb thought Enoch's idea to extend the end of the bar to accommodate a handful of stools around it was "dumb." ("Now it makes sense," he said.)
Likewise, Enoch said, Caleb will come to him with "what he thinks is a really cool doughnut" that just isn't.
"We always butt heads," Enoch said.
"But we also seem to want the same things," Caleb added.
They still do want that stand-alone doughnut shop, by the way, but only if they find the right spot.