LAKEVIEW — Upscale restaurant Hearty is transforming into a more casual burger place next year — and the change, co-owner Steve McDonagh said, has partly to do with the closing of the neighbor across the street.
The much-maligned Chateau Hotel’s shuttering earlier this year was a positive change for the 3800 North Broadway block but now, with many empty storefronts, the street is experiencing “growing pains” that make it look like “a war zone of construction,” he said.
The hope: new spot Spritz Burger, which will specialize in seltzer cocktails and grass-fed beef burgers, will be a place where people living in the neighborhood will want to stop in any day of the week — not just for special occasions, like Hearty often is, he said.
“We were feeling like our neighborhood needs a bit of change,” he said. “We need some place in our hood that’s more of a Wednesday night go-to place within walking distance. That seems to be a hole in our neighborhood.”
Plus, McDonagh and partner Dan Smith — the Hearty Boys — were looking for an opportunity to work with their friend Gale Gand, a James Beard Award-winning chef and founding partner of Tru, who will design the dessert menu for Spritz Burger.
The dessert menu isn’t firm yet, but ideas such as pudding flights, sticky toffee pudding, blackout cake, and black and white cookies have been discussed. Beyond burgers and craft cocktails, Hearty signatures such as weekend brunch, the lavender fried chicken, and weekly seafood specials will stay.
Hearty will close after a New Year’s Eve dinner and New Year’s Day brunch. Spritz will hopefully open four to six weeks later.
The look of Spritz Burger will largely be the same as Hearty but more bright, glassy, airy, and — with Gand on board — more feminine, McDonagh said.
And with the Chateau gone, the wall that separates the patio from the street will come down in the spring, he said.
The wall went up when the patio opened, an effort at giving diners privacy. But even with the wall, people used to poke through the holes of the barrier to ask diners for money when the Chateau was open, he said.
“We are very committed to the people in this neighborhood and helping improve this block,” he said.
That said, the spot at 3819 N. Broadway may not be around for the long-term. Landlord David Gassman, also the owner of Spin Nightclub, plans to renovate several of the buildings on the 3800 block of North Broadway, including the Hearty Restaurant spot.
McDonagh’s not thinking about what might happen yet, he said. For all he knows, Spritz Burger will end up being a three-year pop-up restaurant, he said.
“I don’t know what I’m having for lunch tomorrow,” he said. “Who knows what three years will bring? I’m riding the wave now and trying to do the best we can.”