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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Big Kids, Logan Square Sandwich Spot From Acclaimed Chefs, Replaces Young American Bar

The owners of the new restaurant collaborated with the team behind the cocktail bar to bring a “more COVID-friendly direction” to the space.

Big Kids is a carryout-only operation serving sandwiches, sides and cocktails.
Courtesy of Wade McElroy
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LOGAN SQUARE — A playful sandwich spot with a ’90s flair has replaced cocktail bar Young American in Logan Square.

The carryout-only restaurant, called Big Kids, opened Thursday at 2545 N. Kedzie Ave.

Ryan Pfeiffer, former executive chef at the now-closed West Loop star Blackbird, and Mason Hereford, owner of the acclaimed New Orleans sandwich joint Turkey and the Wolf, are behind the new restaurant.

On the menu is a selection of “sammitches,” including a fried bologna sandwich ($13), a fried spaghetti pocket called a “‘sketti pocket” ($6) and “Amy N Nettie,” ($14) a beef milanesa and burnt tomato sandwich inspired by dishes Pfeiffer’s and Hereford’s moms used to make.

The sandwiches at Big Kids, now open at 2545 N. Kedzie Ave. [Courtesy of Wade McElroy]

Pfeiffer and Hereford, both in their mid-30s, drew inspiration from their respective childhoods — Pfeiffer in the Chicago suburbs and Hereford in rural Virginia.

The two even designed the menu to look like a page out of a high school notebook — complete with that “S” ’90s kids used to draw everywhere.

“It’s just going to be a collaboration between what we think is awesome and delicious and fun,” Pfeiffer said.

The collaboration started about a year ago after Pfeiffer visited Hereford’s no-frills sandwich joint Turkey and the Wolf, which was named “The Best New Restaurant in America” by Bon Appetit in 2017.

“Those were two of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had,” Pfeiffer said. “When I was in fine dining, I knew I wanted to do something related to owning a sandwich shop. … Turkey and the Wolf enlightened me to what could possibly be my future.”

After Blackbird shut down, Pfeiffer and Hereford teamed up with Jeff Donahue and Wade McElroy — the owners of Young American — on Big Kids.

Changing up the spot was done as a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has bars and restaurants across Chicago reimagining how to do business to stay afloat.

“It’s almost impossible for bars to survive in the COVID climate. You can’t have enough people to stay alive as a business. We decided to re-concept the space in a more COVID-friendly direction,” Pfeiffer said.

Young American opened in January 2019 and in a short time became known for its inventive cocktails and bites.

The menu at Big Kids. [Provided]

At Big Kids, orders must be placed in advance online. The owners have no plans to offer dine-in service anytime soon with Chicago still battling the pandemic.

In addition to sandwiches, Big Kids serves pasta salad and ’90s-inspired cocktails, including one made with Ecto Cooler Hi-C, a fluorescent green soda made popular by “The Ghostbusters.”

“It’s hard to find happiness in such a dreary time, but we’re going to do our best to bring some light and some love back into the world,” Pfeiffer said.

Big Kids is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday- Sunday.

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