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Pops for Champagne Brings 'Bom Bolla' to 1880s-Era Wicker Park Building

By Alisa Hauser | November 20, 2014 1:51pm
 Future home of Bom Bolla at 1501 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park.
Future home of Bom Bolla at 1501 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — The owners of Downtown's venerable Pops for Champagne are bringing a Spanish-themed restaurant specializing in sparkling Cava wines to Wicker Park.

The venture, called Bom Bolla, will be in a renovated 1880s-era building at 1501 N. Milwaukee Ave., on a strip that has become a hotbed for new restaurants.

Bom Bolla, owned by Thomas Verhey, founder of Pops for Champagne, applied for a liquor license on Wednesday, Crain's reported.

The bar will "present the best in authentic Spanish sparkling wines, beverages, and cuisine," according to a description on Gusto.com.

Developer Steve Lipe, who began renovations on the 130-year-old building on the northeast corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Honore Street in February, said that Bom Bolla will be renting the entire 4,350 square-feet building.

With the use of a rear addition and rooftop deck, the two-story Bom Bolla could be one of the largest restaurants and bars in Wicker Park, outside of Piece Brewery and Pizzeria, Lipe said.

"It will be a higher-end place. For those that live here and are not 24 years old, you can go to Trenchermen and Francesca's Forno but everything else is a pretty crowded, stand-up-drink-beer kind of place. [Bom Bolla] will be a good compliment to other restaurants, like Rick Bayless' Xoco," Lipe said.

On the opposite corner from the future Bom Bolla, Bayless opened his new Xoco restaurant at 1471 N. Milwaukee Ave. in August.

Lipe said on Thursday that exterior renovations on the building are about 95 percent complete, though were slowed down a bit by the cold weather.

The wood-frame building — which gave a peek into the past when the vinyl siding was removed over the summer — is now covered with an iron gray siding that matches the gray brick on a newly constructed neighboring building at 1505 N. Milwaukee Ave.

"We are trying to make both buildings read together as one palette," Lipe said of the neighboring building, which will house a Jeni's Spendid Ice Creams, slated to open sometime in the spring.

In addition to Xoco, Bom Bolla will join many other new restaurants on the block: Umami Burger, 1480 N. Milwaukee Ave., Max's Wine Dive, 1484 N. Milwaukee Ave.; and Azzurra EnoTavola, 1467 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Michael Weber, a commercial real estate broker, said that the recent flurry of restaurant activity along the the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Milwaukee shows that development is "pushing further south" from the Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenues intersection.

"We are working on some deals in the Milwaukee corridor and the surrounding area and inquires from the restaurant and hospitality users have increased significantly in the last few months," Weber said.

Verhey could not immediately be reached for comment about Bom Bolla on Thursday.