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Giant, By Former Lula Chefs, Preps to Open This Month

By Paul Biasco | June 7, 2016 8:18am
 Jason Vincent (l.) Josh Perlman and Ben Lustbader, the partners behind Giant.
Jason Vincent (l.) Josh Perlman and Ben Lustbader, the partners behind Giant.
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Galdones Photography

LOGAN SQUARE — A tiny Giant is slowly growing in Logan Square.

Its name even gives nod to one of the neighborhood's own, Shel Silverstein, the author of "Me and My Giant."

The team behind Giant, a petite 40-seat restaurant, hope to open by the end of June.

The restaurant has been a long time coming between former Nightwood chef Jason Vincent and his partner in the kitchen Ben Lustbader, who cooked alongside each other at the Logan Square standout Lula Cafe.

"J.V. and I have been cooking together for a long time starting at Lula and for the first five years at Nightwood together," Lustbader said. "We have a lot of great relationships with the local farmers and ranchers. It will be all new food. We aren’t looking to bring back old hits or whatever, but what we think of as ‘normal food.'"

Giant, 3209 W. Armitage Ave., is a project between Vincent, who previously was named Food & Wine's best new chef, Lustbader and Josh Perlman from Avec, who will be the beverage director.

Lustbader, Perlman and Vincent are all partners in the restaurant.

That stretch on Armitage that has become a dining destination packed with restaurants frequently popping up on many publication's "where to dine" lists.

"We are friends with a lot of the other business owners and chefs on this block," Lustbader said. "J.V. and I worked the line together at Lula [Cafe] a while ago ... it just so happens that all these buddies from our past, we all kind of grew up together in the scene and ended up working on the same stretch."

The menu was described as elevated Midwestern fare and will change frequently.

Vincent wants "big comforting plates."

"What we are basically trying to do is take all the stuff that we know and love and actually deliver on them," he said. "I feel like there's a lot of places, not just in Chicago, but they say they are going to serve pasta, but it's the daintiest, tiniest, most traditional pasta ever."

The 1,400-square-foot restaurant is Vincent's first project since leaving Nightwood in 2014, where he was a semifinalist for the James Beard "Best Chef: Great Lakes" award.

The partners are waiting on final inspections with the city and hope to be open by the end of the month.

"We have been kind of chipping away at it. I think watching two kids slows the process down," Vincent said. "To be honest it was nice to take a little break, maybe necessary even.”

Naming the restaurant Giant is not only a self-aware joke of the tight quarters, but is also a reference to a Silverstein poem Vincent's daughter has become attached to: "Me and My Giant."

Silverstein grew up in Logan Square.

If all goes well in the first year, the Giant team hopes to build out a back patio space for year two.

"From the conversations that I've been having, people seem to be really excited about what's going on over here," Perlman said. "Personally, we are really excited to be on the precipice of something big in this area."

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