WEST LOOP — Chef John Manion is trying to be as nimble as possible amid a global pandemic.
After weeks of empty tables at Manion’s West Loop restaurant, El Che Steakhouse & Bar, the award-winning chef is pivoting to debut a permanent butcher shop and counter service dubbed El Che Meat & Provisions inside his 845 W. Washington Blvd. location.
Following the state-mandated shutdown, Manion established what was intended to be a one-time, pop-up butcher shop to sell meat he would no longer be able to cook for diners. But after positive feedback on the first pop-up, Manion figured having a permanent butcher shop inside the eatery could be a way to try to ensure his restaurant’s survival during uncertain times.
Naturally, it was an “organic fit” to add a meat and provision counter at a steakhouse and bar, Manion said.
Set to open sometime after May 25, the new butcher and counter service will offer premium cuts of raw meat, including an 8-ounce filet mignon and up to a 48-ounce tomahawk ribeye. Manion will provide step-by-step instructional videos for preparing the meat on his El Che website.
In addition to various cuts of meat, the new butcher shop will offer South American-inspired sandwiches, salads, empanadas, sides, chimichurri and wine.
The restaurant itself has an expanded menu as well as meal kits with cooking instructions. The meal kit options include spit-roasted half or whole chimichurri chicken, grilled 10-ounce hangar steak with chimichurri, grilled fish and more.
Manion aims to offer curbside pickup for meals five times a week starting June 2.
The butcher shop will be open 4-8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and noon-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Manion said he expects it will take some time before patrons will feel comfortable “dining like we used to” when restaurants are allowed to reopen.
Restaurants are making changes as more information comes in, “but the landscape is going to be different” for the entire industry, he said.
“We will adapt and find ways to serve the public as we always have,” Manion said.
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