To encompass the culinary, educational, and market functions, the restaurateur Richard Sandoval calls his new project planned for Block 37 a “Latin American cultural center,” comprising a range of stations, each with a different focus.
When it opens in (hopefully) November, in addition to a store on the Pedway level, Sandoval’s project will have 11 food stations, offering items such as empanadas, Mexican flatbreads, salads, seviches, and desserts. At these stations, customers order and bring their food to an area of about 350 seats. In the center, a full-service, liquor-licensed restaurant will serve global tapas with Spanish influences. A small learning center, also near the middle, will provide space for a chef to teach 10 to 15 people to make, say, seviche or salsa. When class is out of session, the same area can double as a pop-up restaurant or bar.
The many-pronged project will be Sandoval’s only Chicago outpost, although not his first—the Gold Coast restaurant Mexx Kitchen opened in 2007 and closed soon after.
Sandoval, who now owns close to 40 restaurants, says he’ll spend three or four months getting the Block 37 project off the ground. One high priority: naming it. Given the success of Eataly, a place with a similar concept, may we suggest Leatin America? On second thought, don’t ask us.