WICKER PARK — Plans are underway to open the city's first Kosher Gino's East pizzeria along with a subterranean mikvah bathhouse and other amenities that will be part of a local Jewish group's headquarters, just north of Wicker Park's main hub.
"It will be neighborhood friendly and a place where people who care about Kosher can come and get quality, original Chicago deep-dish pizza," said Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz, leader of the Bucktown Wicker Park Chabad Jewish Center at 1630 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Moscowitz said that if all goes as planned, the restaurant, to be called "Gino's East Vegetarian," could be open by next fall, slightly ahead of a neighboring Northwest Tower hotel project.
Alisa Hauser says plans have been in the works for some time:
Moscowitz said that while the pizzeria will be Kosher, it will be targeted to anyone that wants a meatless pizza prepared using Kosher ingredients.
It will be similar in concept to Milt's Barbeque for the Perplexed in Lakeview, Moscowitz said
Moscowitz said that the project has been more than two years in the making and that the Chabad has an agreement with Gino's East to open the pizzeria.
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said he supports the plan, which, including Gino's East Vegetarian, would span about 25,000 square feet over three stories, with the addition of a rooftop deck and an underground mikvah.
"I think it's great. They're actively promoting their space and I think they'll do well," Waguespack said.
Gino's East Vegetarian would be the anchor tenant on the first floor of the center; the second floor would have a coffee shop and lounge area as well as a sanctuary and offices, according to renderings.
Moscowitz, 34, and his wife, Sara, live in the Wicker Park area with their six children.
The Chabad operates The Living Room, which acts as the headquarters for the young Jewish community since it purchased a permanent building in 2010 at 1630-32 N. Milwaukee Ave.
"Wicker Park is a household name and has become an important destination for young adults in Chicago," Moscowitz previously said.
In addition to Gino's East Vegetarian, to be located at 1632 N. Milwaukee Ave., the group has secured another business for the first floor of the center.
Bang Salon at 1425 N. Ashland Ave., will move its hair salon to 1630 N. Milwaukee Ave., in a space that is being used as the center's sanctuary.
Lisa Bloss, a manager at Bang Salon, said that the salon has outgrown its current space and needs room for more stylists.
"We have seven stylists now and will be able to have up to 15 in the new salon. We are very excited about it," Bloss said.
Moscowitz said the group is also planning to build a mikvah in the building's basement.
A mikvah is a communal bath for Jewish women.
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