When Quay Tao opened the Portage in 2010, he said he wanted to put a restaurant he would want to eat at in the Portage Park community, and he named it accordingly. Now, working on his second Portage Park spot, he’s naming it with a different angle on the neighborhood focus. Community Tavern (4038 N. Milwaukee Ave., no phone yet), an “upscale tavern or gastropub, for lack of a better word,” as Tao puts it, is scheduled to open in late summer or so.
Community Tavern’s classic American food will slant French, in contrast with the Portage’s Asian-influenced new American. Steaks, chops, fish, and roasted chicken will constitute the backbone, with house-made sausages and charcuterie, as well as oysters and escargots to show soupçons of French. Joey Beato (who’s also a partner in Community Tavern) will serve as executive chef for both restaurants, with Matt Saccaro (Tizi Melloul, Autre Monde) as chef de cuisine for Community Tavern.
With 75 seats to the Portage’s 35 indoor seats, Community Tavern aims to suit several different purposes. “If you want to come and hang out after work, or to be in a romantic dinner or have a late-night cocktail,” Tao says. “Not some small silly little niche.” And it won’t be noisy. “We will have velvet booths. Music will be more of a background ambiance, not blaring,” he says. “NO TV,” he adds, speaking in all capital letters. If only he’d ban cell phones, too.