Centre Street Kitchen Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is
The Lincoln Park hangout raises money for pediatric cancer patients and their families.
Published Nov. 21, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.
Text by Peter Ranvestel
If Centre Street Kitchen (1224 W. Webster Ave.) were a Hollywood movie, posters and commercials would hail it as “the feel-good film of the year.” The new concept from Big Onion Tavern Group owner Erik Baylis raises money for pediatric cancer patients and their families, serving up good vibes along the way. (Baylis himself is a cancer survivor.)
Centre Street Kitchen’s quest for positivity is apparent from the moment you sit down. Greeting every guest is a card that asks them to “go around the table telling each person something you appreciate about them.” A neon sign prominently displayed on the back wall of the front room reads “I’ve never had a bad day in my life” — a nod to Baylis’s Never Had a Bad Day Foundation, a nonprofit that helps families burdened by cancer with everyday expenses, like buying groceries or paying hospital parking fees. Throughout the large space, blocks of names on the walls honor people who have battled or are battling cancer. Visitors can add the name of a loved one to the tribute wall for a $100 donation that goes directly to Never Had a Bad Day.
The menu skews toward vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes, most of which are made with locally-sourced ingredients. But for carnivores, there are also a few meaty options, like the New York strip steak or a good old-fashioned beef burger. The cocktail list combines classics and original concoctions — like the watermelon martini, made with freshly pureed watermelon and topped with cracked pink peppercorns. When it’s time for post-dinner sweets, you can peruse desserts via an old-school View-Master.
It’s the time of year when most of us are trying to balance indulging ourselves and doing good for others. On a night at Centre Street Kitchen, you can do both.