The restaurant and retail shop, expected to open in the fall at an undisclosed storefront near Western and Foster avenues, would pay homage to the old Budlong family pickle farm, which operated from 1857 to 1908 in the area.
"I just thought that was a really cool story to retell and revive with a restaurant brand," said Jared Leonard, who opened Rub's in 2010 in West Rogers Park.
Ben Woodard explains the neighborhood's pickling history:
Leonard said he had been exploring concepts for a new restaurant when he came across the history of the Budlong farm. The family, headed by Joseph and Lyman Budlong, maintained a successful 500-acre farm in what's now known as Lincoln Square.
The farm's main operation was selling pickled cucumbers and beets, which were first grown in surrounding fields. The hearty vegetables thrived in the sandy soil, Leonard said.
But as the city grew and the land became desirable for development at the turn of the century, the Budlongs sold their land, which included greenhouses the area became known for.
Leonard said he'd been experimenting with the cuisine planned for The Budlong Pickle Shop.
"This concept is for the everyday man," Leonard said. "This is the food that farmers actually ate: fried chicken, pork chops and obviously pickled vegetables."
Other menu items he intends to offer include ham on the bone, scratch-made sides and charred Brussels sprouts.
At the bar, he said, cocktails would be infused with pickled fruits and pickling brines.
Leonard said he was finalizing a lease for a 3,000-square-foot storefront and has two shipping containers full of restaurant equipment and furnishings ready to go for a fall opening.
Like Rub's, Leonard said, Budlong Pickle Shop should stand out in the city's food scene.
"I don't think anyone else in Chicago has a pickle theme to their restaurant," he said.
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