SOUTH LAKEVIEW — After plans for a small-plate restaurant at Wellington's Tavern fell through in January, a new group of hopeful buyers want to turn the bar into a farm-to-table restaurant.
The owners of Farmhouse are scooping up the tavern, 1300 W. Wellington Ave., to open a simplified version of their River North restaurant. Co-owner T.J. Callahan said they spent the past two years looking at about 30 locations before settling on Wellington's.
"We were looking for the right location for this intensely neighborhood-focused version of Farmhouse. We really focus on community support and supporting green charities and philanthropies in our neighborhood communities," Callahan said.
Farm Bar, which is expected to open in mid-summer, will have the same Midwestern-farmed ingredients as the two Farmhouse restaurants in River North and Evanston. The new restaurant will feature seasonal sandwiches, burgers and appetizers, as well as craft beer, wine and cocktails.
"We don't do anything that is mass market. Our beer is 100 percent craft, and our liquor is all craft liquor, mostly from [the Midwest]. There's been a major spike on Midwestern wines, and we're one of the biggest sellers of Michigan wine anywhere outside of Michigan," Callahan said.
The menu at the 1,200-square-foot eatery will have some similar dishes as Farmhouse; the pasture-raised classic burger and the Old World Grains veggie burger are two proposed Farm Bar menu items.
The Farmhouse restaurants specialize in farm-to-table food culled from farms in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Callahan himself owns a farm in southwestern Wisconsin.
The potential new owners are buying the business and leasing the first floor of the building, expecting to leave the current apartment on the second floor.
Farm Bar will be open for dinner and weekend brunches, and it will likely have a small outdoor patio. Callahan told South Lakeview Neighbors on Tuesday that out of consideration for nearby homes, the restaurant would close between 10 and 11 p.m.
The family-centric neighborhood was ideal for Farm Bar, Callahan said. With nearby draws like the Athenaeum Theatre and Agassiz Elementary School, the owners believe there is a market for a family restaurant with fresh, seasonal food.
"We're not trying to do what we do downtown," Callahan said.
Wellington's has remained open during the search for a new buyer. In November, longtime Wrigleyville resident Howard Blumenfeld announced plans to convert the tavern into a restaurant, but later backed out.
“Wellington’s is pretty old,” Blumenfeld said in January. “I’m sure they’ll find someone to buy it, but the expenses were more than we wanted to spend.”
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