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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Shake-It Vows To Work With Neighbors Before Bringing Boozy Shakes And Burgers To West Town

The Ohio-based restaurant group has already made concessions to neighborhood groups, but will meet with them again on June 27.

Grace Auto Clinic, 820 N. Damen Ave., is expected to be replaced by milkshake-focused restaurant Shake-It.
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WEST TOWN — The owners of Shake-It, a boozy milkshake and burger restaurant, will meet with residents of the Ukrainian Village and East Village this month to unveil design plans and menu information.

The proposed development at 820 N. Damen Ave. would likely need an aldermanic sign-off on a liquor license, but community approval is not required for the plan, since no zoning change is needed.

Still, Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) requested a public meeting of the East Village Association and Ukrainian Village Neighborhood, and one is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on June 27 at J&M Tap, 957 N. Leavitt St.

Related: Neighbors Want Meeting With Shake-It’s Backers To Hear Plans For The Boozy Burger Spot In West Town

Some neighbors have questioned the burger joint’s commitment to working with neighbors, but co-partner on the project Dante Deiana said the Shake-It team has attended multiple East Village Association and Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association meetings during the last 18 months.

A 2017 rendering of Shake-It. The walk-up window has since been scrapped.

“The lifeblood of our restaurant will be comprised of the area residents at both the employee and regular customer levels,” he said.

The Shake-It group said they plan to follow all city laws regarding late night noise and other neighbor concerns, but some are calling for a more formalized, legally-binding community agreement.

In 2017, Shake-It announced plans for a sprawling 80-seat patio and beer garden.

“The law on outdoor noise is really clear and we intend to follow it,” Deiana said. The city requires outdoor patios to close by 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Shake-It is a venture by Ohio-based Forward Hospitality Group, which entered into a 99-year lease to replace Grace Auto Repair near the corner of Damen Avenue and Rice Street in Ukrainian Village.

Deiana — a Loyola University graduate and a DJ for the Chicago Cubs — is a co-founder of Forward Hospitality. Of the 16 years Deiana has lived in Chicago, eight were spent in Wicker Park.

While the majority of Forward Hospitality’s 12 locations are in northeast Ohio, the group also does work in Breckenridge, Col. and in Columbus, Deiana said.

Of Forward Hospitality’s three Cleveland-based partners, one person — attorney Bobby Rutter — lived in Chicago for six years, Deiana said.

“Some of our equity partners in this venture — like local Chicagoan and Blackhawk Stanley Cup Champion Scott Darling — own houses right down the street,” Deiana said in an email. “So there are vested interests financially and residentially.”

According to a DNAinfo report from 2017, Shake-It will offer 20 varieties of milkshakes — with booze or without — along with griddled hamburgers, chicken and a kids menu.

Early renderings from architect Steve Ciciretto showed an 80-seat outdoor patio and a walk-up window.

Forward Hospitality did away with the walk-up window at the request of neighborhood groups.

“A pretty major concession as it alters our business model significantly,” Deiana said.

Subhash Saluja is the owner of the building at 820 N. Damen Ave. He ran a taxi business out of the auto garage before renting the building to Grace Auto Repair.

“This area is coming up very good and a restaurant is better for the neighborhood than an auto shop,” Saluja told DNAInfo.

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