HUMBOLDT PARK — After a few years of online orders and dropoffs, the owners of Logan Square-based ghost kitchen Funeral Potatoes are looking to establish a brick-and-mortar in the neighborhood.
Eve Studnicka and Alexis Thomas-Rice are seeking the community’s help to take their business to the next level, raising money through an online fundraiser and an upcoming event to build out the restaurant and pay for supplies and staffing.
As of Thursday morning, the online fundraiser had raised a little more than $8,300 toward its $13,688 goal. But Studnicka said they need to raise at least $60,000 by June 2024 to get the project off the ground.
To help fill the gap, Studnicka and Thomas-Rice are hosting a fundraising event called The Howdy Y’all Disco Ball 6-10 p.m. June 3 at the See You Soon event space in the Kimball Arts Space at 1757 N. Kimball Ave.
There will be Funeral Potatoes food, drag performances, cocktails, a silent auction, vintage wares from Her & Ziba, a GlitterGuts photobooth, a best-dressed contest, plus “lots of dancing,” Studnicka said.
Tickets cost $85 and can be bought online.
“We are incredibly excited about this event as it represents so much of what we love about Chicago and the Midwest,” Studnicka said in a news release.
“From the campy queer vibes, to the lineup of beloved local talent, to the eclectic and luxurious silent auction roster, and of course the food — we want to give our community a sample of what we can offer once we are able to put down more permanent roots.”
Studnicka and Thomas-Rice launched Funeral Potatoes in 2020 after the pandemic hit: Studnicka was laid off from Finom Cafe in Irving Park, while Thomas-Rice lost all of her catering events as the owner of Black Cat Kitchen.
Since then, the two have been cooking out of a shared kitchen at Spaulding and Bloomingdale avenues.
Funeral Potatoes serves Midwestern comfort food with an elevated twist. The rotating menu includes dishes like jalapeño popper mac and cheese, cranberry and Coca-Cola pulled pork sandwiches and icebox cake made with blueberries, chamomile and goat cheese.
The ghost kitchen is named after a cheesy hash brown dish that’s popular among Midwestern neighbors, and it is sometimes referred to as cheesy potatoes or party potatoes, depending on where you live.
Studnicka and Thomas-Rice grew up in small Midwestern towns.
“We were drawing inspiration from when your neighbors bring you casserole to get through a hard time or to celebrate a baby. That felt very much like what we were doing during the pandemic — creating and delivering comfort food to get them through a hard time,” Studnicka said. “There’s nothing more comforting than cheesy potato casserole.”
Over the past few years, Funeral Potatoes has grown from a two-person operation fulfilling a few dozen online orders a week to a sustainable virtual restaurant with several employees.
Studnicka said opening a physical restaurant is the natural next step for the business. She said they’ve been yearning for more face time with customers after years of running the business online.
A brick-and-mortar will also allow Studnicka and Thomas-Rice to expand their menu and serve plated dishes. Funeral Potatoes is currently restricted to serving food that travels well, Studnicka said.
Studnicka said the restaurant will be modeled after “comfortable and relaxed” spots like Same Day Cafe, New Wave Cafe and Spoken Cafe. They hope to open in Logan Square, where they have lived and worked for years, she said.
“We have so many friends in this neighborhood and so many customers in this neighborhood. We’ve got our roots going down over the last decade so we are really hoping that we can retain that,” Studnicka said.
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