BUCKTOWN — Celebrity chef and Food Network star Jeff Mauro announced Thursday that he's bringing a 40-seat fast casual BBQ joint called Pork & Mindy's to the neighborhood's main hub at Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues.
Set to open before the end of the year at 1623 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the former Red Hen storefront that's been empty since the bakery closed in December, the restaurant, co-owned by Mauro and business partner Kevin Corsello, will feature a "diverse and approachable menu," according to a news release.
The menu will offer slow-smoked sandwiches such as Bao to the Pork, Mulberry Smoked Pulled Chicken, Pig Candy BLT and Pulled Lamb; salads including Chopped Candy Cobb and Smoked Chicken; as well as a variety of tasty sides and desserts and nonalcoholic beverages.
The 2,500-square-foot eatery will be named after a new line of all-natural sauces called Pork & Mindy's that just landed at Mariano’s locations throughout the Chicagoland area. That brand was conceived by Corsello, who hails from Wheaton.
Mauro is pitching his first spot to be located in Bucktown, but a spokeswoman said he's planning to open additional Pork & Mindy’s restaurants throughout the country next year, too.
"The restaurant is technically on the border of the two [neighborhoods], however, since the restaurant is located north of North Avenue, the brand refers to it as Bucktown," a spokeswoman said when asked about the borders of Wicker Park and Bucktown, a hotly contested topic for some locals.
Originally from Elmwood Park, Mauro said the spot was chosen because the busy nexus was "truly the intersection of food, music and art in Chicago."
In that spirit, the restaurant’s interior, featuring a rustic design, will showcase works by local artists and there will be a "uniquely curated music program by young, emerging deejays" to further the vibe.
Corsello added, “Food, music and art have always had a powerful meaning in people’s lives and we know that throughout the country, the arts programs in schools continue to be minimized and affected by budget cuts."
To get a sneak peek of what to expect at Pork & Mindy's, Mauro will appear from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bucktown Arts Fest, 2300 N. Oakley Ave. in Senior Citizens Park.
Festival-goers can get a taste of several of the restaurant’s planned signature menu items and Pork & Mindy’s will donate 25 percent of proceeds from the weekend’s sales to Bucktown Arts Fest.
Rose Picchetti, who owns the one-story building where she ran Red Hen in for 17 years, said she and her husband are "delighted" by Pork & Mindy's.
"We are so happy. We searched a long time for the right tenant," Picchetti said.
Former Red Hen spot at 1623 N. Milwaukee Ave. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]
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