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The Franklin Room Is Coming to River North

The guys from Union Sushi + Barbeque have a neighborhood tavern with clever, classic details planned for April.

Mike Schatzman and Chao Thapthimkuna   Photo: Timothy Hiatt

The Franklin Room (675 N. Franklin St., River North, no phone yet), the just-announced next project from the team behind Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar, zigs off in a different direction from their first venture. “We found a great space right next to our current establishment,” says Mike Schatzman, a partner. “Another Union Sushi next to Union Sushi doesn’t make sense. It’s literally right next door.”

Instead, they chose to conjure the historical spirit of the tavern, a place where, the Franklin Room’s press release says, you didn’t just eat and drink, but also “pick up your mail, vote, and check on crop prices.” Schatzman expects a mellower vibe in the 65-seat below-grade space than the high-energy feeling next door. “[It] has that old-school tavern-style feel, where you may want to hide from some people or use it as your getaway,” he says.

The bar program will incorporate liquor from small-batch distilleries, designing flights of, say, Scotch or bourbon or tequila to explore the breadth of the spirit. Forrare bottles or special vintages, the Franklin Room will offer a bottle-keep program, where a customer can purchase a bottle to be stored at the restaurant, accessible later to the buyer or whomever the buyer gives a “buddy pass” to. “We also plan to try to incorporate a day-drinking element into the equation—2, 3, 4, or 5 o’clock,” Schatzman says.

Chao Thapthimkuna will create the food menu, which currently isincubating in half-formed ideas. Inspirations include smoked fish, smoked meats, oysters, lobster pot pie, and fish and chips.

They plan to open in August. Until then, we’ll be picking up mail, voting, and checking crop prices on our smartphones.

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