UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — A new restaurant named Shake-It wants to replace an auto repair shop at the corner of Damen Avenue and Rice Street in West Town's Ukrainian Village. But first, it needs the community's blessing on a liquor license.
"This area is coming up very good and a restaurant is better for the neighborhood than an auto shop," Subhash Saluja, the owner of the building at 820 N. Damen Ave., said on Wednesday.
From the early 1990s until about 15 years ago, Saluja ran a taxicab business out of the auto garage. He's been renting the building out to Grace Auto Repair since he closed his business.
Shake-It will offer 20 varieties of milkshakes — with booze or without — along with griddled hamburgers, chicken and a kids' menu, according to Shake-It's Dante Deiana.
"We want to ingrain ourselves into the neighborhood and be very family orientated. We want to be an anchor at that corner," Deiana said, adding that the outdoor patio along Rice Street could be converted into a pumpkin patch in the fall.
The 80-seat outdoor patio will be a beer garden during the warmer months. "Shake-It" will have a walk-up window for those who want to grab ice cream or milkshakes on the go.
Though a rendering by architect Steve Ciciretto shows the words "Shake Factory" over the walk-up window awning, Deiana emphasized that that's just a placeholder and the name of the restaurant will be Shake-It.
Deiana and business partners Bobby Rutter and Michael Schwartz with Ohio-based Forward Entertainment Group said Shake-It will be their third venture together following two nightclubs in Cleveland named FWD and Magnolia.
A Loyola University graduate and a DJ for the Chicago Cubs, Deiana said he met Rutter, a lawyer, in the mid-aughts when Rutter was living in Chicago.
Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), the East Village Association, and the Ukrainian Village Neighbors Association are co-hosting a public meeting next week to discuss the Shake-It plan, which would require a liquor license.
The public meeting is set for 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 10 at Columbus Elementary School, 1003 N. Leavitt St., Hopkins told residents in an e-newsletter on Tuesday.
Michael VanDam, president of the East Village Association, said, "We're very interested in getting the perspectives of the residents in the immediate vicinity of the restaurant, as they'll be the most directly impacted by the change in use of that building."
James Conroy, president of the Ukrainian Village Neighbors Association, said the residents of Rice Street have concerns about the number of construction projects on their street, so the group is "looking forward to learning more about this proposal and how the project may affect nearby neighbors."
View the site plan and renderings by architect Steve Ciciretto, below.