WICKER PARK — After more than a year of construction, the closed Shambles bar is ready to unveil its next chapter as a massive Southern-style restaurant named Bourbon on Division that, like its predecessor, will also stay open until 4 a.m. daily.
Owner Joe Lin, who also owned Shambles, said during a tour of the 5,296 square-foot space on Thursday that if everything goes as planned, Bourbon on Division at 2050 W. Division St. will open sometime in June.
Lin said Bourbon on Division "will be a restaurant first and a bar second."
There are 104 seats on the first floor and 89 upstairs — more than double the size of The Shambles due to an expansion that added a rear addition on the first and second floors, as well as an elevator.
James Bateman, who will lead the kitchen, described the food as "forward-thinking American fare with Southern traditions and flavors."
Originally from North Carolina, Bateman said he has not yet found a restaurant that does Southern cooking the casual way he prefers, so this feels like home.
"Joe [Lin] is allowing me to have creative freedom and that's important," said Bateman, who brought on Ian Hauknidge to assist him.
Bateman said the menu is still being developed, but it will be heavy on appetizers like pimento grilled cheese bites, battered and fried crawdaddies, vegetables with whipped cheeses to spread on crackers and a daily selection of soups.
A just-installed smoker in the kitchen will provide for BBQ smoked meats and sandwiches such as beer-braised chicken smothered in pepper, mayo-based Alabama white sauce.
Entrees will include smoke brisket and grits, grilled pawns, and a build-your-own vegetable entree for vegetarians.
"Too many restaurants only offer vegetarians one set dish. We want vegetarians to feel welcome here," Bateman said.
Early Friday, Lin put out the word on Instagram that he's looking to hire workers for Bourbon on Division. A minimum of 30 new jobs will be added to the neighborhood, he said.
Bourbon on Division will be the fourth housed in the building, which the Lin family bought in 2001.
The back entrance to Bourbon on Division, which faces the alley, will not be open to the public, Lin said. Last week, Lin commissioned several Chicago street artists to paint the doors and exterior walls of the back of the building.
Lin said the artists who participated include Amuse, stuck, merlot, radah, Yoki, suburban warrior, fq art, pancho ,dreds, yams, killabuns, cujo, Obe and Jas Petersen.
"To me, it's the artists who started this neighborhood," Lin said.
There is no website yet. Check out Bourbon on Division's Facebook page for updates.