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Rick Bayless Restaurant Coming to Wicker Park, Alderman Confirms

By Alisa Hauser | September 23, 2013 2:35pm | Updated on September 23, 2013 7:13pm
 The shuttered Salud at 1471 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park has a new tenant: Chef Rick Bayless.
Rick Bayless Moves into Former Salud Tequila Lounge
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WICKER PARK — Famed celebrity chef Rick Bayless will open a restaurant in Wicker Park, the local alderman said Monday.

Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) tweeted out the confirmation.

"I'm excited to confirm this rumor is true...New Rick Bayless Restaurant Coming," Moreno said on Twitter.

The alderman included a link to the food blog Eater, which said Bayless was opening a new eatery, and mentioned the old Salud Tequila Lounge space in Wicker Park as one of the possible locations in the city.

On the southeast corner of Honore Street and Milwaukee Avenue, Salud Tequila, at 1471 N. Milwaukee Ave., closed in February.

The building is owned by Newcastle Limited, which recently purchased several other Milwaukee Avenue buildings on the 1400 and 1500 block of the busy street, packed with retail shops, restaurants and bars.

Bayless, 59, who stars in the PBS show "Mexico — One Plate a Time," is best known locally for his Frontera Grill and Topolombampo Mexican restaurants.

On a more local level, Bayless, a Bucktown resident, often shops at the Sunday Wicker Park Farmers Market and has been known to share his "phenomenal haul" of food finds on Twitter, where the chef has more than 333,000 followers.

Late Monday, news of Bayless' entry into Wicker Park was well-received by workers and owners of local restaurants and shops.

Directly across the street from the shuttered Salud storefront, Bongo Room's self-described "cook and sometimes chef" Martin Sanchez, 39, said he was "very happy" about Bayless' new restaurant.

Bongo Room, a famed brunch spot at 1470 N. Milwaukee Ave. is known for its long lines, but Sanchez predicted Bayless would "bring even more people" to the busy stretch of street, about one block south of the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection.

"It will be very good for business and will help to draw more people to the area," Sanchez said.

Rita Alexander, manager of High Noon Saloon at 1560 N. Milwaukee Ave, said she read the news on Eater.com.

"It's exciting, a good addition to the neighborhood. Anytime a new spot opens, more people come [to Wicker Park], more people check it out, it's good for everyone," Alexander said.

Norm Levin, owner of Sewing Gold at 1511 N. Milwaukee Ave., a sewing machine shop in Wicker Park, said the addition of Bayless will be an "upgrade to the neighborhood bar none."

"He's internationally known," Levin said of Bayless.

David Ginople, owner of store B vintage at 1472 N. Milwaukee Ave., directly across from the future Bayless restaurant, said he was "delighted" by the news. 

"A world class chef has chosen our neighborhood," Ginople said.

The Wicker Park restaurant will be Bayless' first new standalone Chicago venture since Xoco in 2009, Eater reports.

A spokeswoman for Bayless was unable to be immediately reached for comment.