WICKER PARK — A Wicker Park restaurant is expanding into a new neighborhood next month.
Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink will open a pop-up patio named Elsewhere Sept. 11 in the parking lot behind Headquarters Beercade, 220 W. Chicago Ave.
Made possible by the city’s Expanded Outdoor Dining permit, Elsewhere will have a “posh backyard feel” and serve crowd favorite meals and cocktails from the Machine menu, said Brian Galati, Machine Hospitality Group’s co-owner.
“We hope it’s gonna be well received,” he said. “We’ll give that same experience in Wicker Park. … Come down, sit in a cool setting, have elaborate dishes.”
Machine opened at 1846 W. Division St. in March 2019, reviving a 6,200-square-foot venue left vacant by former contemporary American restaurant Taus Authentic.
Galati believes the restaurant-bar-flower shop trinity has survived the pandemic because it’s able to offer a variety of experiences within a two-hour time frame — and with ample social distancing.
“When COVID happened I think people were starving for a bar experience and they couldn’t get it. Our cocktail program really was able to shine,” he said. “We made some major pivots … took down price points a bit. That hit the nail on the head. Guests [are] eating and drinking more than ever.”
In addition to Machine and Headquarters Beercade in River North, the Machine Hospitality Group also owns Headquarters Beercade in Nashville.
The Nashville location has already reopened, however Galati and Machine Hospitality Group co-owner Chireal Jordan are waiting to reopen the River North spot when more restrictions on indoor dining are lifted. When that happens, Galati promised an entirely new experience — including new games and a new menu.
“We kind of started from scratch … a 2.0 version of Headquarters,” he said. “We’ve taken the down time seriously.”
In the meantime, Elsewhere will make use of Headquarters’ parking lot and restrooms. Galati said the “clandestine” pop-up will be built daily at 5. p.m.
The pop-up can safely seat about 64 with social distancing. Galati has plans to keep the pop-up going through colder months. He plans to add heaters and sell blankets. (Guests can “BYO” blankets, he added.)
Machine’s patio can seat up to 120, but Galati and Jordan cut that down to 65 seats. The company is spending roughly $1,000 per week on safety measures, including masks, gloves and extended staff hours for cleaning.
“That’s unfortunately the secret curse of our business right now that guests don’t understand,” Galati said. “It’s great to see a busy patio, but they don’t know what our expenses are.”
While some restaurants have added a “COVID charge” to guests’ bills to offset these costs, Galati and Jordan do not plan to do that.
“Everybody’s hurting,” Galati said.
Elsewhere’s hours of operation are 6-11 p.m. Friday, noon-midnight Saturday and Sunday and 6-11 p.m. Monday-Tuesday. Elsewhere will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. Make a reservation on OpenTable.
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