A storefront at 1422 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park that'll soon be home to the first Chicago outpost of Michigan-based Conrad's Grill. Credit: Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago

WICKER PARK — The first Chicago outpost for Conrad’s Grill, a Michigan-based restaurant chain specializing in tater tot-stuffed wraps and munchies like fried pickles, aims to open this fall on Wicker Park’s Milwaukee Avenue.

If everything goes as planned, the new restaurant will open in early September at 1422 N. Milwaukee Ave., said Jeff Kaplan, one of three owners behind Conrad’s Grill Chicago.

Once open, Conrad’s Grill — which plans to stay open as late as 4 a.m. on weekends to feed the after-bar crowds — will be across the street from Devil Dawgs, 1431 N. Milwaukee; Taco Bell, 1439 N. Milwaukee; and The Halal Guys, 1415 N. Milwaukee.

A Conrad’s Grill wrap up close. [Facebook] 

Kaplan said the planned hours could change based on demand.

The restaurant will not serve alcohol and aims to be a spot where bargoers can wind down. The East Lansing, Mich. restaurant, where Conrad’s was founded in 2007, has been a favorite among Michigan State students, Kaplan said. 

Conrad’s signature item is its grilled tortilla-wrapped sandwich, served hot and stuffed with various combinations of largely American fare, including tater tots. Conrad’s bills itself as the “Home of the Original Tot-Wrap” and it also serves sides like mac-n-cheese and broccoli bites, chicken tenders, fried pickles and French fries, according to the menu.

The Milwaukee Avenue storefront was selected for Conrad Grill’s first Chicago location because of Wicker Park’s “growing popularity among young professionals and families and its vibrant night life and street scene.”

The storefront’s proximity to the bustling six-way Damen, Milwaukee and North intersection two blocks north was another perk.

“The company believes this location fits well with Conrad’s lively and sometimes boisterous personality,” Kaplan said. 

Kaplan said Conrad’s Grill intends to open another 3-5 stores in the next few years, with possible outposts near the DePaul University campus and Wrigleyville in the pipeline.

Two general managers from the East Lansing stores will spearhead the Chicago operation. They expect to add up to 15 full- and part-time staffers in various positions from kitchen to front of house and delivery.

Conrad’s Grill Chicago is a joint venture between the Conrad family of East Lansing, Mich. and GrillWrap Corporate Management, a Chicago-based venture operated by Kaplan with local partners Cameron Cummins and Mike Rane.

Prior to Conrad’s Grill, the storefront was home to the Lomography camera store, which closed in 2015, the same year that the apartments above the storefront, boarded up since the 1970s, reopened.

Earlier this week, a permit for an estimated $150,000 remodeling to transform the space (one of three storefronts at the base of a 3-story vintage building), was issued by the city, according to Cityscape.

The renovated vintage building offers three storefronts; Conrad’s will be in the one at the south end. [Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago]
Conrad’s Grill will take over the storefront at far right in this photo. [2015 file photo/Alisa Hauser]

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