Brasserie Jo (59 West Hubbard St.), the popular French restaurant in River North, will close its doors at the end of August, said Jerrod Melman of Lettuce Entertain You in an exclusive interview with Dish.
With the lease expiring on the critically acclaimed brasserie next month, Jerrod and his brother, R. J., will renovate and reopen the space as a yet-unnamed French restaurant. Of course, Chef Jean Joho will be involved, but the kitchen will be led by Tim Graham (currently the head chef at Brasserie Jo). Since the restaurant is practically next door to Hub 51—the brothers’ first venture and another popular LEYE spot—the Melmans will be able to keep an eye on both projects conveniently.
“We really felt like French food is one of those things that we’ve always enjoyed,” Melman said. “But our generation isn’t as used to it—and hasn’t explored it as much. This is our chance to reintroduce French food to a new generation of people.”
Here, excerpts from our chat with Melman this afternoon
D: What are the details?
JM: [Brasserie Jo] has been around for over 15 years, and it’s been extremely successful and has won many awards. The lease was expiring. We anticipated that and felt we were ready to do another project. What we were looking to do and what Chef [Jean] Joho was looking to do coincided. We’re working with [him] to breathe some new energy into it.
D: Are you gutting the space?
JM: [The building’s] got really great bones, but I promise you, it will look completely different than it does now.
D: What will the new restaurant be like, pricewise?
JM: We’ve had such great luck at Hub 51, at an affordable price point, where people can come multiple times a week. I know [the new restaurant] will be in that same vein—extremely affordable. People will be able to go there three, four times a week and not break the bank.
D: What’s the capacity?
JM: I think it will lay out a little differently [than Hub 51]. It’ll be smaller—probably seat around 200 when all is said and done . . .225 maybe. We’ve got a pretty good idea of the floorplan, but nothing is set in stone yet.
The Melmans are shooting for a late October opening.
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