CHICAGO — BRGRBelly owners Steve and Nicole O'Brien have come a long way since setting up shop in Portage Park four years ago.
They weathered a name change, a store closure and a nasty Yelp review to grow their business from a one-off burger stand into a national restaurant chain.
The husband-and-wife duo detailed every victory and setback in a 2,000-word "love letter" they posted on the restaurant's Facebook page last week, ending with an announcement that both the restaurant's Northwest Side locations would pour their more than 40 craft beers for just $2 each through June 30.
Opening LeadBelly at 5739 W. Irving Park Road in Portage Park in 2013, the O'Briens were later forced to change their restaurant's name amid a legal challenge from the blues singer they'd been trying to honor.
In 2015 they opened an offshoot Italian beef restaurant, called BeefBelly, in Jefferson Park at 4800 N. Central Ave., adding Molly and Myles Ice Cream next door. A second BRGRBelly location, opened in 2014 on Milwaukee Avenue in Gladstone Park, was closed late last year.
Now, the O'Briens are developing "four BRGRBelly concepts in downtown Chicago," a new location in suburban Rosemant and "our first foray out of state into the South Carolina marketplace," the letter read.
The restaurateurs filled their note with a laundry list of personal thank yous, including hat-tips to everyone from former 38th ward Ald. Tim Cullerton to the Yelp reviewer "Spaceman Joe," whose early one-star review "made us realize that we always have to strive to be better," they wrote.
"This is our love story to Chicago, to the mighty Northwest Side, to our community and extended family," it concluded. "We only ask that you continue to hold us to a high standard, let us know when we’ve met your expectations, and when we’ve let you down.