EDGEWATER — In a bittersweet but "exciting" move, beloved Rogers Park breakfast joint and cafe The Growling Rabbit will be picking up and hopping along slightly south to North Broadway in Edgewater this summer.
"I'm super stoked, I'm really completely excited about it," owner Laura Soncrant said. "This is the way I've been drawn to move my business — and it's happening for a reason, and I'm really excited about it."
It will fill two storefronts between 5938-40 N. Broadway, spots on a strip the Edgewater Chamber and 48th Ward office have been working to develop for years.
One is the former St. Andrew's Inn, the other an old office space.
It's a move she's been dreaming of for the past few years, and even attempted to crowdfund $75,000 last year to move into a nearby property on Morse Avenue.
She said she and her customer base quickly outgrew the ability to cook and effectively serve on a six-burner stove in its small current location. There was no room to cook breakfast and brunch essentials like pancakes and burgers — two items that will definitely be on the new menu, she said.
Key kitchen items like her stoves and refrigerators are all owned by her landlord. Beginning a new chapter in Edgewater will give the restaurant the step up it needs to fully spread its wings, Soncrant said.
It might take her loyal regulars a little longer to grab their morning cup of Joe, but she said renting both storefronts was her chance to make her vision of a brunch pub come to life.
The old St. Andrew's at 5938 N. Broadway will be a lunch and dinner pub that opens later in the afternoon and keeps serving until later at night. The bar will feature both signature and classic cocktails along with a non-intimidating selection of beer and wine.
Soncrant said she's also inquiring how to develop a personal craft brew for The Growling Rabbit, which would be featured at the pub.
At 5940 N. Broadway, customers can get the full sit-down breakfast and brunch experience with a slightly expanded menu, or grab a coffee and pastry on the way to the Thorndale Red Line station.
Between the two storefronts, she said she can fit about 100 customers — four times her current capacity.
It will also give her the chance to conjure the feeling of a tight-knit family restaurant that also serves as a neighborhood bar.
As she transitions into her new digs and out of their Sheridan Road location, Soncrant said she'll keep the bakery running until the end of July when her lease end, "ready or not."
By the summer she said she hopes to open to a new (and old) crowd serving "hearty comfort" food that warms the heart and soul.
What she does know she's ready for is a new experience with new tastes.
Soncrant, who chuckled when talking about being a person who is allergic to eggs running a breakfast restaurant, said many of the items featured on her menu today reflects the tastes, requests and dietary needs of her Rogers Park customer base.
Not a vegan herself, she said vegan options and other specialty items like gluten-free pastries became popular after customers started asking for them.
Those will remain on her menu, but she said she's open to new ideas in her new neighborhood along the transforming North Broadway.
The efforts of local officials and business groups paid off big time in 2015 when between Thorndale and Elmdale avenues on North Broadway, Whole Foods and a Verizon retailer both opened — as well as the announcement that author Veronica Roth's husband Nelson Fitch would open a wine bar and restaurant across the street at 5959 N. Broadway.
Once the historic Broadway Bank building at 5948-60 is leased, that strip of Broadway would be complete.
For now, Soncrant said while she's sad to leave Rogers Park, she's "We still will seek to service the Rogers Park community, we'll just be a mile and a half south, that's it."
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